This Week's Codes and Standards, November 19

Advocacy group files suit against City of Los Angeles, parking garage assessments in New York State, USGBC and BRE form partnership, and Virginia voters approve measure to cut property taxes in flood-prone areas

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | November 19, 2018
Photo of Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Unsplash/Mignon Hemsley

Parking Garages in N.Y. State Will Have to be Inspected Every Three Years


Owners of parking garages in New York State will soon be required to have the structure undergo a condition assessment by a qualified professional engineer every three years. The new rule will require these assessments as early as next fall. An on-site structural evaluation is required, and the engineer must submit a condition assessment report to the governing authority, which could be the city, town, county, or other governmental unit.
All parking garages in the state including private, municipal, and state-owned facilities, are subject to this new code. This includes freestanding parking structures as well as portions of buildings, unless the only parking is on grade. Small garages for one- or two-family houses or townhouse units are exempt.
New parking garages must undergo an initial condition assessment before being issued a certificate of occupancy or certificate of compliance.

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USGBC and BRE Form Partnership


The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the BRE Group (BRE) have formed a partnership to collaborate on standards, platforms, and research.
The organizations will explore ways to:

  • Increase the level of engagement of existing buildings in the measurement, reporting, and improvement of their environmental, social, and wellbeing impact.
  • Embrace a digital strategy to raise combined technological capabilities and establish industry-wide common data standards and protocols to make both platforms simpler, smarter, and more intelligent.
  • Conduct research to identify new transformational opportunities to improve sustainability credentials of the world’s buildings, communities, and cities.

The collaboration will also look to USGBC and BRE’s combined market knowledge, partnerships and collective tools through LEED, BREEAM and other rating systems to address all built environment sectors: new and existing commercial buildings, new and existing homes, infrastructure, landscape, power, waste, and finance. LEED and BREEAM are the two most widely used green building programs in the world, having certified assessments of over 640,000 buildings in 167 countries and territories.

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Virginia Voters Approve Measure to Cut Property Taxes in Flood-Prone Areas


Virginia voters approved a referendum to cut taxes on homes in flood-prone areas of the state. Climate experts warn that that it might encourage people to remain in vulnerable areas and spur similar measures in other states.
The measure passed with more than 70% of the vote. It allows local governments to cut taxes on homes that repeatedly flood if the property owners take protective steps. Supporters say the change will keep residents from abandoning coastal communities. Climate policy advocates say they are concerned that it provides an incentive to remain in risk-prone areas that are likely to flood repeatedly.

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Advocacy Group Sues City of Los Angeles to Prevent Increased Development Density


The advocacy group Fix the City has filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles in an effort to prevent changes in allowable density along the Metro Expo Line. The group contends that the increased allowable density should not be allowed until city infrastructure and services are adequate enough to meet current residents’ needs.
The city’s Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan would increase residential density by 20% and employment by 25% within a half-mile of five stations along the line that runs from downtown to Santa Monica. The group wants the city to fix streets and sidewalks in the area, as it alleges, the city has pledged to do as part of the plan.

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Report Outlines the Most Cost-Effective Way to Decarbonize Residential Buildings


A new paper published by a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin examines how policymakers should approach a goal of decarbonization of residential buildings. The researchers used their home city as a test case to apply a customized energy system optimization model.
Optimal decarbonization relies primarily on electrification of end uses and concomitant decarbonization of electricity supply, the authors wrote. Energy efficiency and rigorous building codes are also essential elements of any low-cost, long-term emissions reduction strategy. Overall, the researchers found that the net present cost of reducing CO2 emissions in Austin’s residential buildings by 90% by 2050 is 7% more than a benchmark that assumes no carbon policy changes over that same period.

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