This Wednesday, February 27 at 8PM in the Library Orr Room, the Village Trustees are going to examine a proposed set of “green” amendments to the Hastings Building Code in a work session. (These changes can be found here: they are a dense read.) Work sessions, which are open to the public, are intended for Boards as a way to work through complicated issues that require time above and beyond that available in a regularly scheduled meeting. The meeting will open with a twenty-minute presentation on the proposed amendments.
After we conclude the working session, we will likely issue a new version and open them up for public comment and possible further revisions. We hope, over the next few months, to enact these proposed amendments to our code.
These green amendments to the building code are the product of almost three years of review and drafting by a team of resident volunteers with an interest and background in these issues. The team was headed by Sharon Kivowitz and overseen by Trustee Jennings: the team has spent many hundreds of hours on this effort, and it shows. The changes have been reviewed by the Planning Board and by the Conservation Committee – and it is in line with the Village Comprehensive Plan and with the Sustainability Action Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees.
The purpose of these amendments is to ensure that the construction of new buildings (both residential and commercial) or significant renovation to existing buildings will be done to a high standard of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. The way we construct or renovate buildings has a significant impact on greenhouse gas pollution, climate change and our local and regional biodiversity and water quality. With rising energy costs, and prospective buyers and tenants increasingly sensitive to the effects of paint, carpeting and landscape, the requirements of a code like this are also the requirements of good business and economic sense. A good green building code enables us to be build interesting, attractive, and functional buildings and be responsible stewards of the land at the same time.
This is a change to existing building code requirements and will apply only to the larger projects that require a building permit. It will apply only to those activities that require a building permit. It won’t apply to small improvements. It applies to commercial, townhouse type developments, and all other residential projects. There are baseline requirements for energy conservation and other sustainability concerns, and then a flexible range of other alternative actions you can take to meet an overall goal of sustainability while providing flexibility to allow for waivers from inappropriate provisions on a project by project basis.
These amendments are at the forefront of best building practices in the country today. They make a clear statement that we are serious about sustainability. They show that we know, here in Hastings, that the way we build and modify our buildings makes a statement about us, who we are, and what we value.