COOL Committee member Thomas Ennis explains the criteria for the 'stretch' code.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Voters will decide at town meeting whether to adopt a building code that will move it toward becoming a "Green Community."
The designation could loosen up state grant money for green projects in town. The building code is one of five criteria that also includes purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles, zoning for "as-of-right" renewable and alternative energy facilities and expedited permitting, and plan to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent in five years.
An article on the town warrant asks if the town will accept a more stringent building code that reinforces its commitment to energy reduction. New buildings would have to align with HERS, the Home Energy Rating System, based on insulation, equipment, thermal efficiency and a "blower" test to determine air leakage.
Adopting the code is a final step in the town's application to the state to become a Green Community, COOL Committee member Nancy Nylen told the Selectmen on Monday night.
"The state just adopted a new energy code ... new performance standards," she said. "The stretch code is a little 'stretch' beyond that."
Fellow COOL member Thomas Ennis said the added cost of building to the stretch code is anywhere from $1,000 to $8,000, depending on the region and building, another $300 for a HERS tester subsidized by the Energy Star program. The annual net gain for the average homeowner is about $1,300 a year, nearly double the average monthly mortgage.
Buildings would have to hit at least a 70 for buildings less than 3,000 square feet and 65 for those greater.
The code would be somewhat different applied to additions, renovations and certain commercial buildings, said Ennis, since it would follow the "prescriptive" option: slightly better insulation and higher equipment and appliance efficiency standards.
"There's no question it's going in the right direction," said Selectman David Rempell, who, however, was concerned that it created the idea it was more costly to build in Williamstown. "My fear is this piece somehow falls through our fingertips and leads to an inappropriate perception of what we do here."
Nylen said most builders are already incorporating higher energy-efficiency standards and paying greater attention to detail.
"We believe we will need to work on builder education ... Particularly in the area of building science," said Ennis, adding, "So they can understand the savings potential so they can tell homeowners."
The town already has already been working on emissions reductions and vehicle fuel efficiency. A zoning bylaw for alternative energy facilities is in the works. The deadline to apply for this round of funding is May 14.
CET will hold a meeting on the building code for residents and builders on Thursday, April 29, at Town Hall on a date to be announced.
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Gee, let's add some more rules and regulations for our non-stop meddling building inspector to feast upon. We already have zero development. In the same couple of months where the town is talking about cutting school programs, cutting school sports, and raising property taxes, the environmental wackos in this town are doing everything they can to make it harder for any growth ever to occur here. These are the same folks who pushed the new wetlands rules a few years ago, and common sense rose up to defeat that. Let's hope it does again.
How about educating the builders WITHOUT making it mandatory for people to follow these rules? Or, how about making it mandatory for the builders to present the customer with the facts about choosing a green building versus standard construction and allowing the customer to make the decision about whether or not they want to spend the extra $$$ upfront to enjoy the monthly energy savings down the road?
It never ceases to amaze me that they are called "liberals" when there is nothing liberating about them at all. Their only mission in life is to take away our freedom.
I think we need more studies to be done on this idea before we consider it. We need multiple hearings complete with people who like to hear themselves talk and engage in endless debate until Tom and Nancy lose interest and go away. You know, just like we do anytime somebody wants to build something in Town. This is the dumbest idea I have ever heard of. Mass State Building Code is stringent enough when it comes to energy. Dave Rempell is right. It's already more expensive to build in Williamstown and yes we are antidevelopment. This will be one more nail in our coffin. Who needs a high school football team anyway? I'll bet Tom never played football.
I completely agree with "only in Williamstown" Let's make Williamstown even more unfriendly/unwelcoming to new families than it already is. They make prospective builders jump through hoops. You want to put an addition where? Oh, god forbid! But they don't step up when it comes to helping long-time Williamstown homeowners with property damage due to someone who believes he's above the law, claiming it "needs to be address in the courts"...oooo, let's not step on those toes.
I could not agree more with "Only in Williamstown". Let's pass more laws that would restrict the non-existent growth in Williamstown. Would this effect the mill they are trying to convert into condos on Water Street?
GOOD BUILDERS are educated about new regulations, and products, including the green ones. It should not be a builders job to make sure people are building green. Those people who want to be green are, and those who do not, should not be forced to be.
If the COOL Commission is looking for a cause maybe they should look into doing something about the as far as can be away from GREEN mess at the high school?
The Green Communities Act offers towns like Williamstown the opportunity to receive state funding for new energy efficiency programs in exchange for committing to reasonable green policies.
Too often we resist changing the way that we do things because we think that it will cost too much or prevent development or somehow limit our freedom of choice. While there may be some higher up front costs for new home builders, these costs will be more than offset by long term energy savings and will foster the growth of green industries in our community. By requiring new buildings to meet the energy stretch code, home owners will see a reduction in energy costs most likely greater than the added cost to build. And the new code, requires enhanced building systems testing that ensures the owner gets the building that they paid for.
While, individual freedom is a concept that is important to all of us, we live in a global economy that has limited resources. We must find ways to encourage responsible choices and practices, that support long term viability of our world's resources and environmental sustainability. We should collectively consider that encouraging growth of renewable energy sources and energy efficient housing will have on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and reducing our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Lets take this small step to support Williamstown's efforts to become a green community.
The added cost of a "waco environmentalist house"...lol..will pay for itself in fairly short order, THEN the owners will be at a financial advantage (over their neighbors)every time the gas/oil bill comes due for years to come! The bank sees the home owner as more able to make their mortgage payment & thus is more comfortable actually making the loan. Green building is happening big time nationally & according to the real estate experts, any home that has energy savings features is more desirable for the above reasons. Unfortunately, the world is a different place now. Ben Franklin actually did the population extrapolation math....he was right. I would love to see a new high school, windows facing SOUTH & super insulated walls, geothermal heat. The R.O.I. then goes to the students!