Saturday, January 15, 2011

Unnecesary complications in Green Building codes

As I encounter more and more of the various codes through the county I am finding that the powers that be when adopting the codes decidedly ignored a simple rule, that would ultimately make the process go better. The simple rule - keep it simple. In an effort to basically stick it to larger projects by utilizing a complicated set of criteria to ramp up the requirements as the project gets bigger the new codes have created a unavoidable mess that is frankly difficult to explain and justify out in the field. Many have decided to use the GreenPoint Rated system developed by Build it Green (BIG) and then have gone further by requiring more than this system requires. Many then have made it optional to actually go through Build it Green to get certified but still require a third party rater. This does indeed save the builder or home owner some money, but it means that the trouble that (BIG) has gone to, to develop a data base that will track the progress of their system is kind of wasted. This means that the individual cities are then going to try and figure out how they are doing towards meeting their goals. I doubt it, so in other words we wont have any idea what the benefit of the green building code is, in any sort of quantifiable way.

What I would propose instead is this. Use the (BIG) system "GreenPoint Rated" but don't alter it, no extra points, no extra measures just use the system. They have already developed the system to result in improved building practices. Also require certification through (BIG) which will then result in a much better documentation of the codes. Don't have complicated tables that break down what is required by size or valuation. This is asking for difficulty in interpretation, something the people behind the building department counter don't need as much as the applicant for a permit. I obviously am all for improving our buildings and building practices and my business is about this, but I fear that the well intentioned green building codes that are coming out around Marin are creating some ill will towards the concept.