Town of Crested Butte Energy Code Development 1993 – 2008 Scott D. LeFevre In 1993, the Colorado Energy Conservation Standards were used as the key reference material for the Town’s Energy Code. The overall R values recommended in the publication were modified by the Building Official into a prescriptive energy code that included the following R values: R-19 wall cavity insulation, R-38 roof cavity insulation and R-10 slab on grade perimeter insulation. In 1996, the Town adopted the Energy and Environmental Point Option System. It consisted on Minimum Efficiency Standards for heating buildings along with a Point Option system to promote green building assemblies. The program was developed by staff with guidance from Frost Busters, Inc. and local residents Fritz Diether and Alison Gannett. The system was patterned after the program used in Boulder, CO. Proponents who did not want to participate in the program could obtain E-Star Rating as an alternative compliance option. From 1996 through 2006, the Energy and Environmental Point Option System was continually upgraded and more points were required for compliance. E-Star ratings also evolved during this time and remain an alternative to the Town’s prescriptive energy code. In 2006, Town Staff felt the Point Option System and Minimum Efficiency Standards had become obsolete and that it was time to move forward with a new program. We looked at Green building Programs such as: Built Green Colorado, LEED Homes and LEED NC. Staff determined that these complex programs were to onerous to implement in our small scale residential and commercial sectors. Town had already adopted the International Building Codes, which specifically address energy and moisture issues as they pertain to different climate zones. With guidance from the Office for Resource Efficiency (ORE), B2 Building Science and Resource Engineering staff decided to develop our current Energy Conservation Code. This code meets or exceeds the Governor’s Energy Office mandate to comply with the International Energy Conservation Code. Mt. Crested Butte, Gunnison and Gunnison County have recently adopted the International Energy Conservation Code. Gunnison and the County offer Prescriptive Energy Codes as an alternative compliance path. The Prescriptive Energy Code Comparison for all four jurisdictions, available on the Town website, demonstrates the various codes. The Town of Crested Butte is the only jurisdiction that requires LEED NC certification for commercial buildings. This certification is required for buildings of 20,000 square feet and larger. As outlined in the recently published Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Gunnison County, 75% of the energy used in Crested Butte is consumed by buildings. That is substantially lower than that of other Gunnison County municipalities. Buildings in Gunnison and Mt. Crested Butte consume 81.5% and 89.5% respectively. This is largely due to Town’s longstanding and proactive policies for energy codes and enforcement. However, Town can always do better and is prepared to move forward with ideas such as those outlined in ORE’s Cooperative Agreement and programs offered by the Governor’s Energy Office. However, from a Staff perspective, it is essential to clearly understand the net result of any proposal or formal program which may be adopted as policy. Most effective ways to conserve energy and resources are not flashy. Learning
conservation without undue sacrifice is the first step. Staff should look carefully at off-set programs, carbon taxes, renewable energy credits, mitigation programs and cap and trade programs that may actually allow energy and resource to be wasted in new ways. One of the most important facets of the Town’s Energy and Resource Conservation efforts is that of Historic Preservation. In Crested Butte, Historic Preservation has been mandatory since 1972. The U.S. Department of Energy began embodied energy savings studies associated with Preservation in the same time period. The studies found that energy used in the construction of an average new building was calculated at 15 to 30 times its annual energy use. In essence, for every building preserved, the equivalent of 15 to 30 years of energy is conserved, not consumed. Preservation has played an important role in the Town’s efforts at sustainable development. The Town Council’s continued support for the Board of Zoning and Architecture, which oversees all preservation efforts, is essential to the future sustainability of Town. The Town Manager, Department Heads and Council should utilize the Mayors Climate Protection Checklist, adopted by the Council in 2006, as a baseline for all discussions and policy decisions. Developing sustainable communities is a dynamic cultural movement. This checklist is a good starting point, and it can be modified to meet the changing needs of our environment and community.