Some interesting legislative developments are taking place right now in Nashville, Tennessee that implicate many of the green building policy issues that we’ve been wrestling with over the past few months here at GRELJ. Since 2007, metropolitan Nashville has required most new and major public projects to larger than 5000 square feet or costing more than $2 million to earn LEED certification. Recently, city councilman Duane Dominy of suburban Antioch introduced legislation that would “allow the Metropolitan Government to pursue an alternative sustainable development design standard to LEED certification based upon pre-determined energy reduction and efficiencies. If Metro chose to pursue an alternative to LEED, the contractor would be required to warrant for a three-year period that the annual energy use for the building will be less than similar buildings” or will earn a minimum score under EPA’s Energy Star program.
The reductions are staggered between 2010 and 2013 and beyond (10 percent through 25 percent, though the benchmark against which those reductions are measured is not set forth in the pending bill); Energy Star ratings would increase from 55 in 2010 to 75 in 2013 and beyond. An independent consultant would determine whether the required energy reduction is met; if not, the contractor (or, interestingly, another entity warranting the energy use) will be responsible for reimbursing the city for the cost of the excess energy use. The amendment is BL2009-503; a vote is slated for later this month. “This would allow an alternative that focuses on the performance of the building, not on the process of how you got to that performance,” Dominy told the Tennessean.
The genesis for the amendment is a 16-classroom addition to Antioch’s middle school, which uses an HVAC and building envelope system that does not qualify for credits under LEED (though it’s unclear exactly why this is the case). The contractor which designed and installed the system- Energy Systems, Inc. of Cookeville, Tennessee- is owned by Bob Southerlan, a former aerospace engineer who is “worried about being knocked out of the Metro construction market.” Leaks in the building occur not only where there is a faucet or tap, but through attics, basements, windows, and walls. These types of leaks are referred to as air leaks. Having unwanted air enter your building and wanted air leaving results in higher utility bills, as you may feel the need to turn up the AC in the summer and require more heating in the winter. Air leaks cause the average homeowner to spend more than $3,400 every 5 years. Properly insulating the building with self spray foam insulation north carolina can easily solve this costly problem.Spray foam insulation is used in a myriad of settings, from cold storage to construction. It is sprayed onto walls, providing a layer of protection from summer’s heat and winter’s heat losses. DIY spray foam insulation considerably diminishes the amount of energy expended for heating and cooling, allowing more control over the building or office temperature. If air leaks are sealed with caulk prior to applying foam, savings of as much as 20% on heating and cooling costs are possible. This is because the decrease in air moving around and through the insulation allows the insulation to work at its best.
I think that this is a critical battle to watch as it may suggest that local governments are coming to view LEED as something less than the mark of building performance; Mr. Dominy’s thoughts about process versus performance are particularly noteworthy in this context. It also echoes some of the remarks in the comments to Pat Murphy’s recent article as presented here at GRELJ (i.e., Mr. Murphy himself noted that “[t]here is a crying need for accurate, verificable and reliable energy rating systems. If LEED doesn’t fill the bill, other options will come forward.”) In addition, if it is true that Southerlan’s system is somehow excluded from the purview of LEED, there may be other, more serious problems with Nashville’s legislation from an antitrust perspective, which we’ll get into in a subsequent article.
- Nashville’s Green Building Code Under Review (Tennessean)