This Week's Codes and Standards, December 18

Green energy investments, German co-housing developments without developers, and a Michigan landfill closing causing contractors to reduce waste

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | December 18, 2017
Photo: Pixabay

Cities May Face Credit Downgrades if They Don’t Address Climate Risks


Moody’s Investors Service Inc. recently warned coastal communities that it might lower their credit ratings if they don’t address the risks stemming from climate change. The credit rating agency giant says that coastal locations are at risk from surging seas and intense storms. Therefore, they are at greater risk of defaulting on bonds.
Moody’s will ask questions about what cities are doing to mitigate risk exposure, an executive from the agency told Bloomberg. Moody’s assesses several factors related to climate change such as economic activity that comes from coastal areas, hurricane and extreme-weather damage as a share of the economy, and the share of homes in a flood plain.
The company has been pressured by investors to be more forthcoming about how it factors climate change into how it determines ratings. In the Bloomberg report, the Moody’s executive said he couldn’t recall any examples to date of the company downgrading a city or state because it failed to address climate risk. But, that could change in the future.

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Michigan Contractors Work to Reduce Construction Waste as Landfill Set to Close


In western Michigan, contractors face the challenge of reducing their waste stream as a major landfill is getting set to close. It’s a difficult challenge, particularly for companies that aren’t accustomed to measures needed to reduce waste. For example, setting up multiple receptacles for sorting different materials can be tricky on small job sites.
If companies prepare in advance, though, they can develop plans to reclaim and reuse many materials. Other materials could be recycled at a planned facility that is expected to handle much of the material that had been sent to the dump. Contractors may also be able to work with suppliers to reduce the amount of packaging delivered to the job site.
For projects targeting LEED certifications, the target waste diversion rate is 75% or higher. One Michigan contractor told MiBiz that using LEED as a main driver of diverting waste makes economic sense.

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German Take on Co-housing Bypasses Developers, Gets Owners Involved with Design


A type of co-housing development in Germany called baugruppen is set up without using a developer. Under this concept, a group of people comes together to work directly with architects and designers to build a shared dwelling that they own collectively. Bypassing developers saves 25% to 30% of the project cost in Berlin.
Cost savings and more control over the project allows for more ambitious, innovative, and sustainable architecture. Working together on the project also builds cooperation and community among members.

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People Invest in Home Energy Upgrades for Many Reasons


People who invest in home energy upgrades want to do more than save money on their utility bills, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. They also want to improve their health, make their homes more comfortable, protect the environment, and mitigate climate change.
Some homeowners are more likely to invest in upgrades when home energy assessors explain the nonfinancial benefits. Some are also more likely to spend money on efficiency in conjunction with other work. When homeowners were asked to imagine that the total cost of energy efficiency upgrades was $3,800 (rather than $2,500), but that they were also already committed to $1,300 in necessary repairs, they were significantly more likely to opt for an additional efficiency upgrade.

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Certified Green Homes Gain Ground in the Pacific Northwest


New homes in the Pacific Northwest are increasingly being built to high energy efficiency standards. Nearly half—48%—of new homes built in Oregon last year got at least one green building or energy-efficiency certification. In Washington State, 23% of new construction was certified, and in Idaho the percentage was 24%.
To compile this information, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance tracked data on six green label programs: Built Green Washington, Earth Advantage, National Green Building Standard, National ENERGY STAR, Northwest ENERGY STAR and Energy Trust of Oregon's Energy Performance Score. Comparing market share numbers between states is somewhat misleading, though. The building code in Washington, for instance, has higher minimum performance standards than Oregon.

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