Eco-friendly, wallet heavy |

Eco-friendly, wallet heavy

Next up for county commissioners aspiring to Boulder is a set of green building codes. OK, cheap shot. Boulder has a lot of wisdom to offer, and not just for making the cost of living even more prohibitively expensive than it already is here.

I’ve been thinking about this since lunch out last week with Commissioner Tom Stone, the only conservative thinker among the three. Stone asserts that eco-building remains too expensive for we working folk to merit codifying rules that encourage the practice. Hey, it’s already hard enough to hang on here.

The working base for Eagle County is being pushed out of the county to live. The future has this trend building rather than waning, and this might well be the single greatest challenge the community faces. If the working class, extending even more into the middle class than it does now, must commute in and out of the valley from other counties, what does that do to the community?

The second-home trend, which today makes up fully 50 percent of the homes in this county, intensifies in concert, well, it’s hello Third World. The valley becomes unbalanced by the truly wealthy and their expensive green homes (with the heat left on for that nine-tenths of the time the home sits empty) and the poorest of the workers in their nice affordable housing hives.

So does it make sense to make homes even more expensive to build in Eagle County. That, I think, is Tom Stone’s question. And it’s a good one. A damn good one.

If we’re in the mood to pass laws to encourage the “correct” behaviors, why can’t we address the big green question: second homes sucking down energy, water and whathaveyou while they are empty?

It’s one thing for me to install tighter windows and a super-efficient wood stove at my shack for the energy savings. But that totally pales compared to empty mansions keeping the heat and electricity on all winter and using tons and tons of water on lawns just for the helluv it, really.

We ought to be taking the mansion people on as well as herding the “normal” people along the greenie path. I’d love to see real guts in, say, making the mansions scale down in size and outlawed from leaving the lights on and spigots open while unoccupied for the sake of the environment. Those measures would have a real effect. Much more so than the extra cost of making our homes greener that government would saddle us with.

Even so. Even with commissioners with their bright ideas for how we should behave ” don’t smoke, build green, and when is the no-driving edict coming? ” the eco-friendly codes under consideration make sense.

Building for energy savings, for instance, is higher up-front and in the long run saves the home owner a ton. The codes use incentives to encourage what makes the most sense, even if the incentives are also penalties. This is a largely Democratic viewpoint, but I don’t have a problem with government helping us do what we should be doing anyway.

I just wish the commissioners had the real courage to make the folks building castles more fairly atone their environmental sins with real investment in other ways that benefit the true community ” and by extension them.

Otherwise, there’s a thick vein of hypocrisy in making it a little harder to buy a home in Eagle County for the sake of the environment while second-home owners waste resources so incredibly, so incredibly with such impunity.

Stone has no answer for the real issue, and he doesn’t pretend to. But neither do greenie commissioners Arn Menconi or Peter Runyon.

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