Dallas Ordinance Promotes Sustainable Development
Beginning Oct. 1, 2009, a Dallas ordinance will require commercial buildings over 50,000 sq ft to† achieve 85% of the points required by the U.S. Green Building Council. And thatís not all.
|Paul E. Ridley is a partner at K&L Gates LLP who practices in the area of construction law and is also a licensed architect. He may be contacted at his Dallas office at 214-939-4905.
The city of Dallas has adopted a green building ordinance that is one of the first in the nation to set mandatory standards for energy efficiency and water conservation for all new commercial and residential buildings.
The ordinance is expected to have a significant impact on the construction industry when the first phase goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2009. All new commercial and residential buildings will be required to achieve certain energy efficiency and water conservation goals. The goals will increase when phase two of the ordinance becomes effective in 2011.
The ordinance will have no effect on existing buildings.
Phase two and learning curves The city's next green initiative, however, calls for developing a set of sustainability rules for all existing buildings. Recommendations for are scheduled to be presented to the city council before year's end.
Perhaps the most direct and immediate impact of the green building ordinance will be felt by developers, contractors and designers. The building industry will face an initial learning curve to become familiar with the requirements of the new ordinance and the impact it will have on building design, construction costs and the permitting process.
Under the new ordinance, new commercial buildings under 50,000 sq ft must be 15% more efficient than the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code and use 20% less water compared to the Energy Policy Act of 1992. They must incorporate EPA's ENERGY STAR cool-roof requirements for low-slope roofs and comply with certain outdoor lighting restrictions. New commercial buildings over 50,000 sq ft must achieve 85% of the points required by the U.S. Green Building Council for its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified level compliance. New residential construction must be 15% more energy efficient than the base-line energy code and utilize four of six water conservation measures, such as two-gallon per minute faucets and shower heads and drip irrigation for all landscape beds. In phase two, the ordinance will impose higher standards, requiring that new commercial projects be fully LEED certifiable and all new homes be constructed to meet a sustainability standard such as LEED for Homes.
To meet the new standards, builders and designers will be required to submit plans for city review along with checklists of resource-conserving building and design features. These checklists may be one of several recognized green building standards, such as LEED (www.usgbc.org) or Green Built North Texas (www.greenbuiltnorthtexas.com).
Different building features will earn points toward an overall total required to meet the applicable standards. Builders and designers will have to learn which building features and materials most effectively and efficiently meet the new conservation standards for a particular building under the applicable point system. This will require close cooperation between owners, designers and contractors to identify efficiency and conservation features compatible with the owner's intended use of the building. These features must be consistent with the designer's concept and practical and economical for the builder.
Reducing emissions, increasing revenues The new ordinance also promises to improve air quality in Dallas by reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions through reduction in demand for power generation. One of the city's goals is to make Dallas a carbon-neutral city by 2030 and the greenest city in the U.S., in part through a 50% reduction in current building energy use.
The ordinance will have several important economic implications for Dallas. The population of the Greater Dallas area is expected to grow to more than nine million people by 2030. Over time, the ordinance should reduce the capital expenditures Dallas would otherwise need to tap new water sources and increase the capacity of water treatment plants to serve the population growth expected for Dallas in the coming decades. The new ordinance is expected to have additional economic benefits that flow from enhancing the city's competitiveness in retaining and attracting businesses, jobs, tax revenues and sustainable prosperity.
Although Dallas is one of the first major cities in the country to adopt a green building ordinance of this scope, it is not the city's first sustainability initiative. Previously, Dallas adopted other significant green measures, such as requiring LEED silver certification for new city owned buildings, conversion of 2,000 city vehicles to alternative fuels or hybrids and a green-cement resolution -- the first of its kind in the nation -- intended to encourage cement kiln operators to reduce ozone.
The green building ordinance has important implications for residents. Chief among them will be cleaner air and lower new-home utility usage.
Benefits eventually outweigh cost Another upside of the ordinance for both residential and commercial building owners and operators will be the increased competitiveness in the sale and rental marketplace for new buildings that meet the ordinance's green-building standards as compared with less efficient structures. With these benefits, however, comes the burden of higher initial construction costs on residents and businesses. As more green-building products become available and sell in volume, however, the incremental building cost should decline. Some or all of the increased construction costs may be ultimately recovered through lower utility costs over the life of the building.
For more information, visit the city's Web site, www.greendallas.net.