Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Santa Barbara boosts green building standards


It was more than a year ago that renowned Santa Fe architect Ed Mazria came to the Marjorie Luke Theater in Santa Barbara and lectured on environmental building standards, lighting a fire under local architects, contractors, government leaders and community members.
Now, with approval from a state commission a pending formality, Santa Barbara stands to mark a new chapter in green building.

A glowing Santa Barbara City Council unanimously approved the Architecture 2030 Energy Ordinance today, legislation that, if approved by the California Energy Commission, will give Santa Barbara some of the most stringent environmental building standards in the state.
"I think we are plowing brand new ground and we're doing it well," Councilmember Brian Barnwell said, calling Santa Barbara second to none on environmental issues. "This is a proud moment."
The legislation seeks to reduce the fossil fuel standard for all new buildings in order to accomplish carbon neutrality by 2030. Speaker after speaker, all members of the Architecture 2030 Coalition, rose to the podium to applaud the new standards. Dave Davis, executive director for the Community Environmental Council, read aloud a letter from Mazria, founder of the Architecture 2030 Challenge.
"You are about to take what I believe is a historic action, the first citywide implementation of the 2030 challenge," Mazria wrote. "...It will be a watershed moment, not only for your city, but many cities that take your lead."
Mazria's lecture in late September 2006 sparked the imagination of many, including local architect Michael Holliday.
"I think we all left there different than we came in," Holliday said.
After waking up in the middle of the night and deciding the local community had to do something, he penned an e-mail entitled Sleepless in Santa Barbara, imploring friends and colleagues to take on the challenge. Councilmember Grant House also described how he left Mazria's lecture amazed.
"It just opened up a whole new way of thinking about things," House said.
The ordinance will enact building regulations exceeding state standards for energy use by 20 percent for low-rise residential buildings, 15 percent for high-rise residential buildings and 10 percent for nonresidential buildings, among other measures.
Calling it one of the most important acts the Council has taken in recent years, Councilmember Das Williams said it is about time "we grow up as a society" and stop being a "race of spoiled children, squandering away our natural resources."
Councilmember Helene Schneider also voiced her support, calling it a great day and thanking those in attendance for coming together to develop and push the ordinance.
"It's not every day contractors and architects come to us and say, can you make the rules a bit more stringent, please?" Schneider said.
Although the Council threw all its support behind the ordinance, it will still have to be approved by the state, a process that will likely take until early 2008. After it returns to the Council for official adoption, the standards will go into effect in 30 days. Language in the ordinance also triggers an automatic review when new state building standards, currently being drafted, go into effect.

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