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We have chosen to live in a village of natural beauty and historic interest. The “built” environment, anything that we construct, directly impacts the “natural” environment. Without more rigorous standards for sustainable building practices, the threat to our village will grow. We need to act to preserve and protect our village by requiring “low impact” building development.
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Unsustainable building practices are ones that are a major source of greenhouse gas emission, do not conserve energy, water or building materials and that result in degradation of the environment. A process is sustainable when it meets the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
From inception to completion, the core ideas of best sustainable building practices are integral to both these choices.
On filing for a building permit, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or International Codes Council checklist will have to accompany the building application. A knowledgeable third party may “rate” the proposed project for expected performance. Before the interior finishes are applied, the building will be checked by a third party to see that established benchmarks are met. A final inspection verifies performance and other features called for in the drawings and specifications. The rating standards are practical and foster good design, specify energy-saving techniques and systems and reward the best, most efficient use of all resources. Documents filed at completion are reviewed by national organizations to determine level of achievement.
Costs for Registration and Certification - including the third party rater fees - are about $1,000 for a 3,000 square foot home. Fees for all the above are based on a sliding scale pegged to the size of the home. It is possible that for a residence of 10,000 square feet or more, fees may approach $5,000. Construction costs may increase anywhere from zero to 5% for homes under 5,000 square feet. Note that the bottom line is impacted by finish selection to a far greater degree than by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes Certification. The compliance pathway runs parallel to that of the normal design and construction process, so project time is not increased.
Benefits to the Homeowner include decreased operating and maintenance costs for the life of the building, increase in the market value of the home, and reduction not only of the on-going carbon emissions of the building, but in the carbon emissions usually created by the building process. Other benefits include increased quiet and comfort, healthier indoor air quality and reduced water usage fees. In addition, there are rebates and tax credits currently available from federal, state, and even local sources to encourage energy efficient building. Everyone benefits when sustainable building practices are followed - consumers, designers and builders, and the community as a whole. It is a real win-win approach.
The new amendments will not apply to renovations and additions that constitute less than a 50% rework of the existing building, however green guidelines are available through both the United States Green Building Council and National Association of Home Builders and are recommended.
The new amendments will be introduced in Phases, with Phase I providing time for learning, Phase II for gradual implementation and Phase III for full implementation with incentives. The dates will be:
The Village of Southampton Building Department, same as usual; just furnish the additional documentation.