Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Green Builidng Ordinance Nearing Approval

The work over the past couple of years to develop a citywide Green Building standard has almost reached fruition. The goal is something similar to Boston's Article 37 (one of the first and most progressive zoning standards in the country), but adding a few interesting incentives for Green Roofs and other measures. There are a few Hearings upcoming--one this Thursday--on the proposed standards (details at bottom).

Here are some of the highlights of the proposed standards, paraphrased from a memo from the City Manager to the community:

  • All major new construction (and significant rehabs) would be required, at a minimum, to meet LEED green building criteria at the following levels: 25,000-49,999 sf (think small office buildings, drugstore-sized retail) would be required to meet LEED ‘Certified’ level, while 50,000 sq. ft. and larger would meet LEED ‘Silver’
  • Formal certification from US Green Building Council (USGBC)/ Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) would not be required.
  • Green roofs would be excluded from the calculation of gross floor area, allowing buildings to be slightly larger (with increased income potential) in exchange for the expense of installing a green roof. As an incentive to create green roofs, decks or patios less than or equal to 15% of the green roof area and set back 10’ from all building edges may also be excluded from the calculation of GFA in certain zoning districts.
    Other green building elements that may reduce a building’s energy consumption and improve indoor environmental quality would be excluded from the calculation of GFA, including extensive wall insulation and shading devices.
  • Building mounted solar energy systems (such as MIT's proposed Solar Air Conditioning System) would be defined as mechanical equipment in the zoning ordinance and hence would not be subject to FAR and height restrictions. Installation of solar systems would require a building permit and new development projects adjacent to existing solar systems would be encouraged to minimize shadow impacts on those solar systems.

Here is the info on the two upcoming meetings, per CDD's Iram Farooq, a city planner:

  1. At the Ordinance Committee, May 6, 6 pm (Sullivan Chamber, City Hall, 795 Mass Ave
  2. At the Planning Board, May 18, 7:20 pm (2nd Floor Meeting Room, at City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)

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