At a forum held last week, and sponsored by the City of El Paso and the Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter, city officials announced that they would ask City Council to approve the adoption of the 2009 IECC energy codes for new construction, with an eighth-month implementation period to get builders up to speed on new tests and procedures they will have to enact to meet the new stricter, building code standards. Back in June, the State Energy Conservation Office announced that the 2009 IECC codes and similar provisions in the International Residential Code will be the law of the Texas land beginning next year, following months of commenting and meetings. San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Eagle Pass, and Beaumont are a few of the cities that have already adopted the new codes, while Houston and Dallas codes already meet the new requirements.
Joining the CIty of El Paso at the event at the downtown event were independent consultant Mike Myers, who successfully led an effort for San Antonio to adopt the 2009 IECC and adopt a much stricter greenbuilding program, Lone Star Chapter Conservation Director Cyrus Reed — hey that’ s me — Paul Royalty with El Paso Electric, and Renata Manning with the Border Environment Cooperation Commission. In the audience, were some greenbuilders, members of the American Institute of Architects, insulation, lighting and electrical installation companies, solar installers, and several officials, including El Paso state representative Joe Moody, state senate candidate José Rodriguez, and County Comissioner Veronica Escobar, who is running to be El Paso’s next County Judge.
In addition to adopting the 2009 base standards — which will be introduced at the September 14th City Council meeting — discussants considered ways in which El Paso could begin a greenbuilding program to encourage builders to go beyond the new codes and make buildings even more energy efficient. El Paso Electric in particular is considering adding incentives as part of its energy efficiency programs for homebuilders to meet energy star standards. El Paso Electric has just started a great solar panel rebate program which is now running like gangbusters. And while there original plan to build a 92 MW concentrated solar plant in New Mexico was put on hold, they are now looking at a series of 10 MW to 20 MW solar PV plants scattered around Southern New Mexico.
Look for the City to begin a greenbuilding task force soon with help from the local El Paso group of the Sierra Club, AIA local chapter and others. El Paso has the chance to make its city more sustainable and create green jobs by making its existing and new buildings more water and energy efficient. The Lone Star Chapter and the local El Paso Group will be there to help.