New "Green" Codes for Builders, Developers in Snowmass Village

Nov 13, 2013

Starting December 1st, builders in Snowmass Village will have to follow a new set of rules that aim to make commercial buildings more energy efficient.
Starting December 1st, builders in Snowmass Village will have to follow a new set of rules that aim to make commercial buildings more energy efficient.
Credit Creative Commons/Flickr/U.S. Army Environmental Command

New building codes meant to make commercial buildings in Snowmass Village greener, are set to take effect December 1st. The codes come after a report in 2009 showed the resort emitted six times more greenhouse gases than the national average. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

An inventory of greenhouse gases taken in 2009 found buildings in Snowmass were the third largest emitter of CO-2 after airplanes and ground transportation, such as buses.

Since that report was released, the Town has been working to bring down its emissions by installing solar thermal systems at affordable housing units, performing energy audits of Town buildings and more.

Now, Snowmass has adopted a tough new set of rules for builders and developers.

"It’s definitely going to take a little extra time both from the building department side and the development side. In the long run, we’re going to have some wonderful buildings that are energy efficient," Mark Kittle says.

He's the Chief Building Official for the Town of Snowmass Village. The 2012 International Green Construction Code applies to commercial buildings only. It requires developers to do things like use more recycled and locally-sourced materials. And, solar power must supply now 2 percent of a building’s energy. It's a change, says Kittle, from how buildings currently operate.

"I have very few buildings that are utilizing solar energy for mitigating their annual energy use. I have several residential homes that are doing that, but commercial component, none."

In another change, when construction on the building’s done, a third party comes in and verifies that everything’s working correctly. That kind of thorough check-up wasn’t required in the past.

Chris Green with Ago Studios in Eagle consulted with the Town on the new code. He estimates, under the code, new buildings will be at least ten percent more energy efficient than older ones. But, builders can go above and beyond.

"If you’ve got a design team that is really looking to make a building more efficient, it could be much more efficient than what’s called for in the code. Building codes are the base minimum that you have to design to and if you design over the top of that, you just get a better building," Green says.

The development company Related Colorado is set to continue construction in the Spring on the second part of the Viceroy Hotel. Related President Dwayne Romero says the building’s design is already highly energy efficient, so it’ll meet standards in the new code.

"It’s kind of already integrated into that facility and then as we go forward for the balance of Base Village, that same attitude and goal is integrated into all the future buildings," Romero says.

The company has the largest number of holdings in Snowmass Village. Many buildings are yet to be built. Romero says he welcomes the new standards partially because they’re good for business.

"The buying community, more and more, sees it as essential for environmental stewardship as well as energy conservation techniques. All of those principles that perhaps 20 years ago were seen as on the edge or too provocative, but today, it’s mainstream."

Not everyone was onboard at first. Chief Building Official for Snowmass Mark Kittle says there was pushback from some builders and developers. Now, he says they’ve reached common ground.

"A lot of times people don’t like change and this is some drastic change. But once you educate them and show them the path we’re hoping to follow, I’ve got a lot of support," he says.

The new green code is coupled with an update to the International Conservation Code, which applies to commercial and residential buildings.

About 2800 people live in Snowmass year round. The population swells to 14,000 during the ski season.