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You know what's *really fun* to discuss at 9:30 at night? BUILDING CODES!
City does code updates every three years, along with the international codes. But we have our own amendments and such when it comes to energy, which makes it about 20% more stringent/efficient.
Despite my bitching, there are actually some interesting recommendations/questions for council in here.
For example: city current requires all new homes over 5,000 sq ft to be net-zero energy (meaning the total amount of energy used yearly is equal to the amount of renewable energy produced on-site or by buying into a solar garden / paying into the Energy Impact Offset Fund)
Staff suggestion: Accelerate the goal of all new construction net zero by 2031 so that, in 2020, all new homes over 3,000 sq ft would have to be net zero.
I actually think I got ahead of myself with the EIOF payments when on-site and solar garden buy-in isn't available. That's another staff recommendation: Allow payments into that to get to net zero, but only as a last resort.
There are 5 other suggestions/questions, as I understand them. But I might wait to hear what staff says to make sure I understand correctly.
Also, I want to give an update on the cop sitting between me and @CassaMN.
Now going on hour 4. Has not peed. Has not eaten. Has not looked at his phone once. Did not even bring a book. He is either kicking himself for such a rookie mistake or is a for-sure psychopath.
Omg he just got up! He must have seen my tweet.
We're chatting a bit about the energy offset fund. Yates just delivered this line: "When unicorns are jumping over rainbows and we have municipalization..."
OK, back to business: Council agrees on the first recommendation, that 3,000-square-foot homes will have to be net zero compliant and that they can pay into the impact fund if they can't do on-site solar or a solar garden subscription.
The next staff recommendation is that energy code requirements be relaxed for renovations. They hope it will encourage building reuse rather than scraping it and building new.
It's a bit complicated, but one of the more important parts is that the requirements would be based on the TYPE of alteration, not on the total cost value of the renovation.
There are three levels of renovation projects, Christin Whitco says.
Level 1: finishes, windows; triggers minimal energy code criteria
Levels 2-3 renovate more than 50% of the home; triggers more stringent criteria
Level 4: a "gut" renovation, "where you can see through the building"; would trigger energy criteria equal to that of new construction
Council OK with that suggestion, too.
Next one is a recommendation that there be a fee when construction waste isn't recycled or donated for reuse. There would also be a change in the way that the required amount of waste is calculated. And staff suggests applying it to commercial projects. (Now it's just for homes.)
Currently, projects have to recycle/donate 100% of concrete and asphalt and 65% of everything else by weight. This was bc concrete/asphalt are so heavy that having them together would result in only concrete being recycled. (It often makes up way more than 65% of total weight)
Staff is recommending that the 65% be raised to 75% and include concrete/asphalt, BUT ALSO that three different material types have to be recycled.
As for the fee, it would be charged to the project and returned when the materials are recycled.
Morzel and Carlisle are on board.
Yates asks how this will affect cost.
"We have not done a full cost analysis," Whitco says.
Yates asks for a "back of the envelope calculation" before staff returns to council.
"I don't want to go along with this and then find out we doubled the cost of construction."
Weaver suggests that rather than charging the fee upfront, tie it to the certificate of occupancy.
Whitco says that bc the demolition permit is separate, it's hard to do that. New construction permit is often pulled before demo permit.
Weaver: I'm not attached to a fee upfront, bc that could impact cash flow.
Council generally OK with these two questions on waste recycling. Yates wants numbers.
A few changes to commercial construction, including requirements that EV charging (or capability) be installed. 5% of the building's energy use must be produced on-site.
There are several slides here that I don't understand in the slightest. I recommend that if these changes are going to directly affect you (as in, you build buildings in Boulder) that you check out the presentation yourself: www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/6A_Buildi…
This is city government reporting at its most basic: Building codes. But I gotta be honest that it's also city government report at its most boring and bewildering.
Here's something I do understand: A proposed local amendment to the building codes to allow/require gender neutral restrooms.
Smaller places have one restroom that has to be gender neutral. In larger/busier facilities, code specifically requires that multi-stall restrooms be gender specific. Boulder could change that to allow or mandate gender-neutral.
Any ordinance that Boulder considers would go through a public process. Council isn't deciding this tonight.
Council supports exploring a change to local code to allow/require gender neutral restrooms. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this once the public process begins.
Last proposed change: Single and two-family homes are exempted from requirements for sprinkler systems, which was mandated internationally in 2009. Staff wants council to decide to keep this exemption or do away with it.
Boulder County does currently require sprinkler systems in SF homes. City is trying to align their codes with the county where possible.
City's fire chief and code staff both recommend requiring sprinklers, from a life safety perspective. At the last code update, Boulder previously declined to require this out of cost concerns.
Morzel's back on her adobe building kick.
The woman is obsessed.
Morzel was saying that adobe and straw bale don't burn, and sprinklers would ruin them.
Fire chief Michael Calderazzo says it's not the structure: it's the contents of a home. "That will kill you long before" the house itself burning will.
Costs about $2/sq ft to add a sprinkler system
Learned something new tonight from Calderazzo. Apparently all our stuff is killing is in yet another way: By making fires more deadly. Bc we have so much more of it and it's made out of more combustible materials.
Council seems to be in favor of requiring sprinkler systems in all new residential construction.
Nagle speaks! "By putting in a sprinkler system, it keeps our firefighters safe as well bc they're not going into a building to save a life."
OK, this wraps the building code discussion.

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