This Week's Codes and Standards, April 23

Revitalizing suburban Elmhurst, Ill., the value of Florida's building codes, CALGreen Projects and LEED, and a controversial sprinkler mandate

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | April 23, 2018
Downtown area
Photo: Unsplash/Mac Glassford

Vibrant Downtown Core the Key for Urban Multifamily Development


For suburban cities looking to attract multifamily development to their downtowns, finding ways to make those areas vibrant throughout the day and into the night is critical. While amenities such as mass transit stops are also important, luxury renters want something more. Elmhurst, a suburb west of Chicago, addressed this challenge with a plan to boost its downtown in 2016.
A revised zoning code was a key measure. The city’s new rules allow for higher residential buildings that boost neighborhood density.
Minneapolis-based Opus Group responded with a plan for a luxury mixed-use development in Elmhurst’s downtown. The six-story structure will feature 164 residential units and more than 7,600 sf of class A retail space.

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Lessons Learned from Decades of Superfund Cleanups Guide Contaminated Land Reuse


After decades of remediation of contaminated properties funded by the federal Superfund program, some important lessons have emerged for reusing these sites. Involving the local community and creating a vision for reuse early in the cleanup process is vital. It’s also critical to perform the right level of remediation for the intended use.
For example, a site intended for a new school or residential development needs more thorough cleanup than one meant for a new parking lot. Solar energy generation has become a popular choice for reuse, as this option takes land that was out of use instead of more valuable farmland or forestland.
Based on EPA analysis of 487 of the 888 Superfund sites in reuse, there were about 6,600 businesses in 2017 located on remediated properties. Their operations employed more than 156,000 people and generated annual sales of $43.6 billion.

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Sprinkler Mandate for Townhomes Creates Controversy in Connecticut


Connecticut’s new state building code draft includes a controversial mandate that all townhomes include sprinklers. The provision was the most controversial item during the public comment period for proposed code upgrades.
The proposed code originally called for sprinklers on all new homes including single-family houses. The CEO at the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Connecticut objected to this requirement, saying that the greater expense would, at best, save one life. New sprinklers would have had to be installed in at least 92,000 new homes, he said.

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CALGreen Projects now Pre-Approved for Streamlined LEED v4 Requirements


New projects built to California’s CALGreen energy and green building codes are now pre-approved for significant streamlining of fundamental LEED v4 requirements. Projects built to the 2016 California code can seek certification through the LEED v4 Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) and Homes rating systems.
“This streamlining effort recognizes those leaders in the green building space who constantly push the market to new heights,” said Wes Sullens, USGBC director for codes technical development. “It also signals to the rest of the U.S. what’s possible when you add the weight of LEED to a robust building code, and that for those already operating at this level, certification is actually very attainable.”

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Florida Building Codes Proved Their Worth During Hurricane Irma


Florida, which ranks first in the nation for its robust building codes, fared well during Hurricane Irma. About 80% of the homes in Irma’s path had been built after the state upgraded construction codes in the aftermath of devastation from Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Homes built to the new code withstood the storm’s high winds well. It’s also worth noting that Florida is the highest-cost state for homeowner insurance due to its location near hurricane paths and its low-lying topography.

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