CONNstruction - Winter 2008 - (Page 13)

newsandviews New “Green Buildings” Law Presents Opportunities and Challenges While reasonable people may disagree over the costs and benefits of “green buildings,” sustainable construction is here to stay. A new Connecticut law requiring energy-efficient building construction standards in the State Building Code also presents numerous questions and challenges for the industry. Sustainable construction is becoming increasingly mainstream. More state and local governments are mandating that building construction projects employ environmentally-friendly building practices and utilize green products and technologies, forcing contractors to take notice. Many contractors, recognizing the marketing value and economic benefits, are embracing the concept. Changes to the State Building Code (Code) were mandated in Public Act 07-242, which amended Conn. Gen. Stat. §29-256a to require buildings costing $5 million or more constructed after January 1, 2009, and renovations costing $2 million or more started after January 1, 2010, to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s silver standard or its equivalent. The requirements, which may be waived if the Institute for Sustainable Energy (Institute) finds that the cost of compliance significantly outweighs the benefits, apply to projects other than residential buildings with no more than four units. New state-funded school construction projects authorized by the legislature on or after January 1, 2009 costing at least $5 million and school renovation projects costing at least $2 million must meet similar requirements. Amendments to the Code are not expected to be adopted for months. How will LEED requirements be enforced in the meantime? The State Building Inspector By Matthew Hallisey CCIA Director of Government Relations and Legislative Counsel (SBI), in guidance to local building officials, has said that officials must enforce state statutes as well as the 2005 Code. Interestingly, neither defines what constitutes renovation for the purpose of the requirement to utilize the LEED standard, nor do they provide any guidance on how to calculate threshold amounts. It is unclear whether these amounts include expenses for environmental remediation or the cost of installing energy efficient materials. The Attorney General has advised the Codes and Standards Committee (Committee) that the new law cannot be implemented until the revised Code is adopted. Additional questions abound: What constitutes equivalency to the LEED silver standard? Will accommodations be made to recognize differing climate conditions unique to Connecticut? Will the new requirements differentiate among office, warehouse, industrial, and multi-family properties, all of which require differing construction techniques? What will happen if LEED certification or an equivalency determination is delayed or denied? (Will a Certificate of Occupancy be denied or penalties ensue? How will it affect retainage?) In addition, what standards will the Institute use to determine whether the cost of compliance significantly outweighs the benefits? Once the Institute gives the SBI and the Committee a written analysis supporting the exemption, what is the approval process? Should a builder who has received a building permit prior to January 1, 2009 change blueprints, plans and actual construction on a project begun prior to that date? What procedure will the Institute use to assure due process to parties whose livelihoods will be affected by those determinations? What is the appeal process if an exemption is denied? Does the Institute or the Office of the SBI have the staffing, resources and expertise to make these assessments? The state estimates that green building requirements would result in an approximate increase of 2 percent in total school construction project costs; some professionals estimate that the requirements could cost up to 20 percent or more. Many LEED standards, such as site location, its proximity to public transportation and whether or not there is a LEED-accredited individual on the project team, are not necessarily construction standards. Some view the LEED rating system as inflexible and expensive. These are important issues that need to be addressed, particularly as the economy slides into recession. New building construction increases economic development. Renovations keep buildings safe and enhance energy efficiency. Inhibiting either could further damp economic recovery. Perhaps the state should use incentives such as tax credits to encourage green construction for development projects that meet or exceed certain energyefficient standards. CONNstruction / Winter 2008 / 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Winter 2008

CONNstruction - Winter 2008
The Next Phase of Contracting Reform
A Return to Trust – Partnering
Building Our Future and Theirs
New “Green Buildings” Law Presents Opportunities and Challenges
Internet Searches and Job Applicants
First Impressions
ConnDOT Hosts the Nation’s Transportation Officials
Reducing our Environmental Footprint
Connecticut Apprenticeship Program Handles Industry Changes and Demands for New Workers
2008 Construction Career Days Program
Contractors Must Become More Diligent During Workers’ Compensation Rate Decline
UCAC General Membership Meeting/Lifetime Achievement Award
John “Jack” Costello Memorial Scholarship
Marvin Morganbesser’s Retirement Dinner
Index to Advertisers

CONNstruction - Winter 2008