Editorial: Peer pressure and a new energy plan
While Summit County and the towns within have been slower to adopt more stringent and green building codes than neighboring Pitkin and Eagle counties, a local grassroots group has crafted what could be one of the toughest programs in the region.
Designed by the High Country Conservation Center and a group of architects, builders and town representatives, the group will soon begin unveiling the specifics to area town councils for review.
The code would restrict the energy footprint for homes more than 3,000 square feet, meaning if you want a heated driveway and a hot tub in an average to large home, you would need some sort of renewable energy source like solar or wind.
And, unlike Eagle and Pitkin counties, there will not be an opt-out clause. In Aspen, for example, someone willing to fork over a chunk of money can ignore the building code. Carly Wier, the director of our local conservation center, said pressure from those regions helped expedite talks and give momentum to this fall’s tougher unveiling.
We expect our towns, who are required to tweak energy codes anyway after legislation passed last fall, to support this measure (although it will take some towns longer to implement than others, we’re sure). The overall impact of these new codes would to bring accountability to wealthy second-home homeowners, many of whom never turn down the heat (including the driveway) and only live here a week or two a year.
A study based in Aspen done last year showed that most second homes have a larger carbon footprint than where locals live year-round, and the same can be said of Summit County, Wier said.
Luckily, that’s a problem we will soon be able to fix, thanks to a lot of hard work by conservation-minded residents who crafted a program with a local focus and buy-in, and not one based on LEED or other standards not suitable for our mountain community.
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