Commercial Green Building Committee Trying to Please Athenians and Environment

The Commercial Green Building Committee focused solely on water efficiency during their meeting at the Bobby M. Snipes Water Resource Center on March 30th, 2010.

“Last meeting we started reviewing ASHRAE standard 189.1,” said Doug Hansford, Athens-Clarke County director of building inspection and permits and provider of staff support for the Commercial Green Building Committee. “We had to finish talking about that in regards to water efficiency before we could move on to energy efficiency.

“Standard 189.1 will provide a ‘total building sustainability package’ for those who strive to design, build and operate green buildings. From site location to energy use to recycling, this standard will set the foundation for green buildings through its adoption into local codes,” according to techstreet.com.

The 18 members sat around a rectangular table debriefing each bullet on the ASHRAE standard, deciding if they wanted to adopt it to be a part of their own standard.

“I think it would be best if we adopt texts that reference a living document, so that we don’t have to keep updating,” said Katrina Evans, chair of the Commercial Green Building Committee.

The committee touched on ways to conserve water in restaurants, golf courses and landscapes. One big question in play was whether or not to keep these standards solely for commercial or should residential and multi-family buildings be included.

“The charge is specific to commercial only buildings,” said Evans. “We would be missing the boat if we don’t attempt to broaden that.”

The question that arose after was if the standard was extended to residential would Athenians “freak out?” The overwhelming consensus in the room was “yes!”

Citizens would be limited to a certain amount of gallons of water per month. They would no longer be allowed to have above ground sprinklers, just like golf courses. After bringing up these issues, the subject of enforcement was constantly reappearing throughout the meeting. Who would enforce these new rules amongst the citizens?

“Step one is creating a standard and that alone will have an impact,” said Evans. “Step 2 would be enforcement, but we’ll save that for a later date.”

The meeting seemed to hold some progress, but no real outcome. The Committee did decide on one thing during the hour and a half meeting: build in flexibility within the standards to accommodate different needs.

Commercial businesses may be expecting a few extra rules and limitations coming their way in the near future to help make Athens more “green,” but it doesn’t look like local residents will se any type of enforcement any time soon.

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