Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Over Three Dozen Cities and Towns have Adopted Energy Efficient Building Code Requirements
"Stretch Code" puts communities on path to qualify for clean energy grants this summer
"By committing to the 'Stretch Code,' these cities and towns have recognized the enormous opportunity for savings that comes with making homes, schools, offices and other buildings in their communities more energy efficient," said Governor Patrick. "I congratulate these communities for their leadership and look forward to many more of the Commonwealth's cities and towns following suit."
The optional Stretch Code is an appendix to the Massachusetts Building Code approved by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards in May 2009. In communities that adopt it, the Stretch Code increases the energy efficiency code requirements for all new residential and many new commercial buildings, as well as residential renovations and additions that would normally trigger building code requirements.
Requiring approximately 20 percent greater energy efficiency than the existing base energy code in new residential buildings and 20 percent in new commercial buildings, the Stretch Code will produce significant energy cost savings for local homeowners and businesses that occupy these buildings. The code appendix applies to all residential buildings from single family homes up to and including buildings three stories or less of any size, and many kinds of new commercial buildings over 5,000 square feet, but excluding facilities with unusual energy usage requirements such as supermarkets, laboratories and warehouses up to 40,000 square feet.
With the Stretch Code now adopted in 40 cities and towns, more than 1.2 million people - over 20 percent of the Massachusetts population - reside in communities that have embraced state-of-the-art energy efficiency standards for buildings.
"I am impressed not only by the number of cities and towns that have adopted the Stretch Code in the past several weeks, but also by their variety. From large cities like Springfield, Worcester and Lowell to small towns like Wenham, Sudbury, and Becket, the Commonwealth's municipalities are showing they are ready to cement our place as a national clean energy leader," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles.
Many of the changes in the Stretch Code have been endorsed by the US Department of Energy (DOE). DOE has put forward the core of the commercial Stretch Code as the basis for the next International Energy Efficiency Code in 2012.
"I am extremely pleased to see so many communities adopting the Stretch Code," said Thomas G. Gatzunis, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, which enforces the State Building Code. "This Code builds upon energy conservation practices already in place, and represents the next generation of energy efficient construction. Not only is adoption of this Code good for the environment, but it also represents real cost savings in terms of annual energy cost to the homeowners and businesses. It is our hope that we continue to see more and more communities take advantage of this opportunity."
Under a DOER program established by the Green Communities Act of 2008, cities and towns that achieve five key energy benchmarks - including Stretch Code adoption - can apply to be named "Green Communities," a designation that puts them in the running for Green Communities Grants funded by proceeds from auctions of carbon emissions permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. DOER plans to award the first round of approximately $7 million in grants in late June. As a first step, DOER in January announced it would begin taking applications from cities and towns seeking official Green Community status. Today (May 14) is the deadline for cities and towns to apply for Green Community status in order to be eligible for the first grant round. DOER will announce the Commonwealth's first official Green Communities later this month. Additional Green Communities grant rounds will follow later this year.
"Green Communities Grants will help cities and towns finance targeted investments in energy efficiency and renewable power, furthering Governor Patrick's clean energy goals, saving money in local budgets, and reducing the carbon footprint of our municipalities," DOER Commissioner Phil Giudice said.
In addition to adoption of the energy efficient Stretch Code, requirements for Green Community designation include:
- Adopt local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows "as-of-right-siting" of renewable/alternative energy projects - siting that does not unreasonably regulate these uses;
- Adopt an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;
- Establish a municipal energy use baseline and establish a program designed to reduce baseline use by 20 percent within five years;
- Purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable.
Click here for a list of communities that have adopted the Stretch Code as of May 14, 2010.