Parker's Building Department is receiving national recognition for adopting energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly building methods, and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project presented a plaque to the town to recognize the …
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Parker's Building Department is receiving national recognition for adopting energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly building methods, and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project presented a plaque to the town to recognize the accomplishment.
“The town of Parker has led the movement to have the energy code enforced across the state and across the Front Range,” said Jim Meyers, director of SWEEP's buildings program. “We've used the town of Parker as an example of how to get those in the trade to build in accordance with the code.”
Every three years the International Code Council, based in Washington, D.C., issues updated codes to make residential and commercial properties energy-efficient. Parker adopted the codes in 2012 and 2015, requiring builders to use “low-E” windows and the latest insulation materials to optimize heating and cooling while minimizing the cost.
Many cities adopted the energy codes requiring the right materials be used, he added, but Parker took the extra step of adopting building codes to ensure builders use the materials properly.
“If you think about wearing a coat or jacket, you can be comfortable wearing a jacket in the winter, but you'll be even more comfortable if you zip the jacket up,” Meyers said, adding that Parker residents are seeing benefits to their health and finances.
Citing Department of Energy calculations, Meyers said the town has saved more than $1.2 million in utility costs in just under five years, a savings of $233 per year for each homeowner in town. Greenhouse gas emissions are down by 8,409 metric tons, the equivalent of taking 1,776 cars off the road for a year.
Meyer praised Gil Rossmiller, Parker's chief building official, for implementing programs to educate designers and builders on how to get it right the first time.
Many contractors were using energy-efficient insulation systems, but they were often installing them incorrectly, Rossmiller said. After taking over the building department in 2003, he began on-site trainings and monthly educational meetings among material manufacturers, builders and his staff.
“It wasn't me just telling them what to do,” Rossmiller said. “Once they made that realization, it's been a great thing for them.”
Rossmiller said there was some “grumbling” at first, but it didn't take long for builders to accept that the new codes were beneficial for them as well as homebuyers, especially with the promise of inspections looming. The program began in 2005, and Rossmiller said he and his staff conducted more than 1,200 site visits that year alone.
The growing pains of implementing codes in the past, Rossmiller said the way forward is clear and efficient.
“Pretty much within a year, people changed the way they designed houses,” he said. “Now no developer comes to town and expects to do anything less.”
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