Wednesday, November 3, 2010

City steps toward green building code

Ketchum establishes team to draft more energy-efficient standards


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

Ketchum is following Hailey's lead in devising a "green" building code for more energy-efficient residential and commercial structures. However, Ketchum will not be merely copying Hailey's ordinance approved a week ago.

For one, Hailey's green building code is voluntary for builders in its first year with the option for the City Council to make it mandatory afterward. Ketchum Councilman Baird Gourlay asserted Monday that the city's code must be mandatory to have an effect.

"I would just add that this is challenging," Gourlay said.

The challenge comes in striking a balance between increasing efficiency requirements while not discouraging development. Councilman Larry Helzel said that even though users would see savings in operating a building, the developer's costs to construct it would probably increase.

Newly hired Associate Planner Rebecca Bundy agreed, emphasizing the importance of getting the building community on board. For that reason, the city has included industry representatives on the team who will develop the building code. The City Council unanimously approved the team on Monday. Bundy, who designed a LEED Gold home, is a member, as is Ketchum's Building Official Dennis Keierleber, who would enforce the green building code. Architect Michael Doty is the last city employee on the team. He serves on Ketchum's Planning and Zoning Commission.

The other team members are Jon Riley, project manager for alternative water-treatment company Whole Water Systems; Steve Kearns, partner with McGinnis & Vandenberg Builders and who has 30 years of experience in local residential and mixed-use projects; Joe Marx, co-founder of Idaho Mountain Builders, maker of custom homes; and Craig Barry, executive director of the local nonprofit Environmental Resource Center.

The team's progress will be routinely updated on the city's website, www.ketchumidaho.org. Bundy said the commercial code would first be tackled since these buildings have the greatest impact, especially hotels.

City Attorney Stephanie Bonney said that even though several hotels, including Bald Mountain Lodge and Hotel Ketchum, have not been constructed, it would be "tricky" to enforce the green building code if it's put into place before their building starts. That's because the city already approved these hotel designs.

However, she said, the general rule is that a builder must follow the code used at the time the building-permit application is filed, and these hotels have not applied for their building permits yet to start construction.

"I bet you that's not their understanding," replied Councilman Curtis Kemp.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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