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Local News

Goleta City Council Adopts Higher Energy-Efficiency Building Standards

New regulations apply to new construction and additions to existing structures over a certain size

The Goleta City Council, minus an absent Mayor Eric Onnen, voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an ordinance establishing local building standards for energy efficiency in accordance with statewide plans for long-term energy efficiency.

The move was hailed by some for its efforts toward energy sustainability, and decried by others for adding even more stringent standards for homebuilders.

Adoption of the ordinance is the result of efforts alongside Southern California Edison to develop and adopt a “reach code,” energy efficiency standards that exceed the existing Title 24 California Building Standards Code minimums. Title 24 standards are updated periodically.

The ordinance puts forth energy efficiency standards for new building construction and additions to existing buildings over a certain size, and improvements such as lighting and new heaters or circulation pumps for pools, spas and water features.

New residential buildings are required to exceed Title 24 standards by 15 percent in energy efficiency. Additions to residential buildings greater than 500 square feet generally are also required to exceed Title 24 by 15 percent.

New nonresidential buildings must demonstrate that they can exceed Title 24 by 10 percent to 15 percent, depending on the approach used to analyze compliance, and additions to nonresidential buildings are required to demonstrate the same.

According to the staff report, compliance with the ordinance also will have the effect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a desired result under Assembly Bill 32.

Many in the room for Tuesday’s meeting were supportive of the council’s push for higher energy efficiency standards. But Jerry Bunin, representing the Home Builders Association, said he counted himself “in the dark side” on the matter.

“We support green building, and we support energy efficiency, but we don’t think an ordinance like this is remotely necessary or productive,” he said, adding that any effort to exceed Title 24 should be voluntary and focused on existing building stock — which, he said, is where most greenhouse gas emissions come from.

Bunin found himself in the minority, however, as the City Council voiced its support of the new ordinance, with Mayor Pro-Tem Margaret Connell noting that home additions will trigger the need for compliance, and Councilman Roger Aceves stating that homebuyers will be looking for the improved energy efficiency. Councilman Michael Bennett said that planning ahead for energy efficiency retrofits would be the less expensive option overall, over making changes on the fly.

Earlier in the evening, the council also took up routine adoption of adjustments and revisions to local building codes. Some adjustments were designed to take into account changes in international standards, while other elements, such as the recent state-adopted CalGreen building code, was incorporated into local building regulations.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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