Candidates weigh in on green building rules | VailDaily.com
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Candidates weigh in on green building rules

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – With six people running for one county commissioner’s job, answers can be hard to find. Except here.From now until the November election, the Vail Daily will ask a question a week to all the candidates running for the one open seat on the board. The winner will replace Tom Stone of Gypsum, who is leaving office due to the state’s term limits law.Send questions for the candidates to: smiller@vaildaily.com. It would be great to have a few questions from readers in addition to the ones cooked up by the paper’s staff.This week’s question is:What do you think of the county’s new “green” building regulations? Are they too restrictive? Did the county go far enough? Or are the current regulations about right for a start?

I was born and raised here; I’m raising my three children here. We enjoy hiking, biking, skiing, hunting, fishing, rafting. The environment is very important to us. Almost everybody came here for the environment. The vacation homes are built here because of the environment. I applaud green building; personally, we are looking at a solar system for our own home. However, I am suspect of a program that you can buy your way out of. What are you accomplishing?Are you accomplishing anything more than bureaucracy if the success of your program requires the violation of its own rules?

Being a businessman, I’d rather see the economy and not legislation drive our need and desire to protect our environment. Being practical I know that government sometimes needs to give us an incentive to change our practices. So I took a look at these regulations. I like the point system. If this system were used to reduce the cost of your building permit I would support that idea. I do not like the fact that someone can pay their way out of the regulations. How does that help the environment or the little guy?

As I understand the new “green” regulations they are incentive-based as well as regulation-based, which is good; the carrot and the stick. Sixty percent of the problem is energy waste, and that seems to be the main target of the new green regulations. Don’t throw away expensive, limited energy.More encouragement could be directed toward passive and active solar energy applications, but we need demonstration projects to educate the public first. I would like to see the airport put in wind and photovoltaic energy-producing systems that would supply the airport’s electrical needs. This would open a lot of eyes and help get the ball rolling toward independence from fossil fuel energy.

I find them disingenuous. The “green” building regulations are set up to create energy-efficient buildings; however, they allow some to buy their way out of the program while creating additional expense for people trying to build an affordable home. Regulations, if created, should be easy to follow, cost-effective and simple to apply. Some of the proposed regulations are difficult to track and enforce. Some represent individual preferences rather than the specific needs of an energy-efficient program. Also, the onerous task of administration cannot be handled by the “Eco-build specialist” but would likely require an entire staff.

Any effort made to better utilize our energy resources is a step in the right direction. The EcoBuild program promotes the use of cost-effective sustainable building methods while providing incentives for those who build green. The county measured the benefits of introducing energy-efficient, healthy and environmentally responsible design practices against the impacts these regulations will have on building costs. And though the challenge is on our valley’s builders to be more environmentally sensitive and resourceful in their design, studies show that the long term benefits will ultimately save homeowners money.

Less regulation in people’s lives is always better. I strongly believe in doing quality work in building construction, as well as other jobs worth doing. I believe that you will pay now or pay later, and with utility costs rising, it may be much more to pay later. The current regulations are more hype than something to really promote energy-efficient homes. It should be very easy to exceed the listed point requirements.Possibly contactors may need to be trained and licensed in the green building techniques. Shoddy workmanship would negate the benefits desired.Vail, Colorado


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