This May marked the first anniversary of BuildSmart, the green building standards program in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado. Residents who have renovated or built new homes during the past year have abided by specific environmental standards—which is a great thing. But despite the program’s overall positive goals, many residents have complained that the stringent regulations are hurting the local economy.
Renovation projects or new homes must meet BuildSmart’s energy rating, determined by how energy efficient it is. Features such as energy-efficient or Energy-Star certified appliances, passive solar design, insulated pipes and alternative energy sources gain homeowners more points.
Because the standards are strict, many homeowners are not making important renovations or building new homes—and some residents worry that’s negatively affecting the Boulder building market. Many residents either don’t want to spend additional money or don’t want to go through the hassle of meeting these standards.
Program officials are now evaluating the program’s effectiveness and making changes. County commissioners have listened to both sides and will make modifications as needed.
As a Boulder resident, I’m naturally watching these developments closely—but this ongoing saga is important to everyone in the green building industry. The line between good policy and over-regulation is a fine one. We all hope that Boulder—which has been at the forefront of the green building movement for decades—will help show the nation how to get it right.