City council passes efficiency ordinance in ‘green’ effort

Last week, the Bloomington City Council passed the city’s first green building ordinance, requiring 15 government buildings to meet stringent energy efficiency standards.

Council Member Isabel Piedmont-Smith said in a press release that because Bloomington was not planning on any major developments, the city implemented U.S. Green Building Council standards on existing buildings.

“We continue to strive to be better environmental stewards, and identifying energy efficiencies is critical since, in the long run, they reduce our operating costs and decrease our carbon footprint,” Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan said in a press release.

Last year, the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns named Bloomington the Indiana Green Community of the Year for its approach to energy efficiency in various developments, notably the development of EverGreen Village, the city’s first “all-green” neighborhood.

The building changes come as the city begins to participate in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. That system helps to provide efficient renovation processes while aiming to maximize energy efficiency, according the U.S. Green Building Council’s Web site.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards for existing buildings focus on addressing whole-building maintenance issues, including chemical use, recycling programs, exterior maintenance programs and systems upgrades.

The standards for Bloomington require that all buildings be brought to a Silver Standard.

To win that classification, a building must earn a specific number of points on criteria including water efficiency, energy, atmosphere, materials and resources, according to the government publication Government Technology. The Silver Standard is one of four rating standards.

Adam Wason, Bloomington’s assistant director of economic development for small businesses and sustainable development, said the 15 buildings were mainly based on number of employees and year-round use.

“We wanted to select buildings that employment was taking place at,” Wason said. “We wanted buildings that were non-seasonal.”

The facilities include City Hall, Department of Public Works buildings, Parks and Recreation buildings and the Utility Service.

The application of the Silver Standard rating assumes that the construction costs will be offset within a 10-year period, according to a press release.

Officials said renovation costs are tentative and specific numbers were not available.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards are meant to not only be energy-efficient, but to pay for themselves over time, Wason said.

The ordinance was designed to specifically offset the cost of improvements or upgrades with the savings from more energy-efficient and conservation-oriented appliances, Wason said.

“If we’re going to do some type of renovation for this ordinance, it’s going to take time to pay itself off,” Wason said.

In this case, there is a 10-year payback period in which taxpayers are projected to save money by applying energy-efficient methods to appliances pertaining primarily to heating, cooling and saving water, Wason said.

“We’re trying to be fiscally responsible with taxpayers’ money,” Wason said. “We’re doing this for wanting to be energy-efficient and to save taxpayers money in the long run.”

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