Building code changes would spur low-carbon cities, California's solar mandate and other standards coming in January 2020, Department of Energy's new tools for home energy savings, Massachusetts town to revamp 55+ housing policy for more affordable housing, and Miami positioned to implement affordable housing and inclusionary zoning
Action on Building Codes Would Spur Low-Carbon Cities
Action on buildings codes is fundamental to efforts to significantly reduce urban carbon emissions, according to a report published by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Cities in the most developed countries should encourage faster retrofit cycles and increase energy-efficiency requirements for existing buildings, the report says. In addition, they should develop zero-carbon energy codes for new construction and transition to an all-electric future.
In less-developed urban areas, the primary challenge is to quickly develop and implement energy codes for new construction while fostering energy-efficiency improvements in appliances. Increasing local capacity for code enforcement is another important component.
Cities in developing markets need to create base energy codes to avoid locking in decades of high carbon usage in new construction and address concerns about access to modern energy sources. The report looked at 10 global cities and highlighted a set of principles to reduce carbon emissions.
California’s Solar Mandate and Other Big Energy Efficiency Standards Upgrades a Little Over a Year Away
California’s far-reaching energy policy adopted earlier this year, including a mandate for PV electric systems on new homes, is only about a year away from going into effect. Every new residential dwelling built in the state starting Jan. 1, 2020 will be required to have solar panels, the first such mandate by any U.S. state.
The Golden State’s new energy policy will require updated thermal envelope standards, new residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential lighting requirements. The standards also encourage demand-responsive technologies such as heat pump water heaters, and high-performance insulation and windows.
Miami Poised to Implement Affordable Housing Inclusionary Zoning
Miami is close to implementing a new policy to require private developers to include affordable housing in new apartment buildings in parts of the city where denser developments would then be allowed. The inclusionary zoning measure would be the first in Miami-Dade County to require affordable housing in new private developments.
Final approval would come this month. Florida continues to struggle to create affordable housing. Miami has already approved a half dozen denser developments in exchange for including workforce-priced units—loosely defined as apartments affordable for teachers.
Mass. City May Revamp 55+ Housing Policy to Spur More Affordable Housing Construction
Framingham, Mass., is considering a major update to its active adult housing bylaw which allows age-restricted dwellings. Children younger than 18 are prohibited from living in such properties, but that restriction prevents the city from counting low-income units in over-55 active adult communities toward a state affordable housing quota.
Massachusetts allows developers to construct multifamily projects if they include affordable units in any community that does not meet the affordable housing quota. This allows some multifamily developers to circumvent local zoning bylaws.
Framingham is also considering a new policy that would require over-55 projects to offer workforce housing geared toward low- and moderate-income residents. At least 10% of units would be restricted to people earning between 60% and 120% of the median income.
Dept. of Energy Releases Two New Tools to Improve Home Energy Savings
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced new tools designed to improve energy savings in homes. The new online tools are for software developers and include an HPXML implementation guide to simplify data aggregation and analysis to lower contractor costs in home performance programs.
HPXML is an open data standard that is comprised of a data dictionary and a standard data transfer protocol (xml) that promotes the efficient exchange of information and data among residential energy efficiency programs, home performance contractors, and other information trading partners.