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City Adopts New Building Codes; Will Add Costs

The cost of building a new home would increased under the new codes.

It will cost you a bit more money to build a new home in Waltham in the future.

That’s because the on Monday, Nov. 14, adopted a new set of building codes rules, known as the “stretch code,” intended to make any newly constructed residential and commercial buildings at least 20 percent more energy efficient. The code will take affect on July 1, 2012, but energy savings are intended to pay for the the upfront costs the new code imposes.

The code passed in an 11-3 vote, with City Councillors Thomas Curtin, Joseph Giordano and Gary Marchese casting dissenting votes, all of whom expressed various concerns on the issue. City Council President Paul Brasco did not vote.

City Councilor Stephen Rourke said that the state Department of Of Eneregy Resources estaimtes the code will impose an additional $3,000 in costs to build a new home. While he did not give a cot figure, Rourke said the new rules are far less stringent on new additions to existing homes.

Despite the passage, several councilors expressed serious concerns

  • Marchese said he was concerned about additional costs the new code would impose on homeowners that add new rooms to their home. “I think that’s a bit intrusive,” he said.
  • Giordano spoke similarly. “It’s a burden to the citizens of Waltham. It’s like giving them another tax. It seems like were good at that,” he said.
  • Rourke, however, told Patch that the savings in energy costs would pay for the additional upfront costs, which he said the state estimates at $3,000.

RUSHING THE ISSUE

  • Giordano said he was also concerned that the issue was being rushed through the council, after a public hearing on it last month. “This just seems to be rushed through,” of the issue which first arose in May.
  • Rourke said he was pushing for a vote because of a Nov. 18 deadline to submit an application to join the state’s Green Community Program.
  • With the adoption of the code, Waltham has now completed all the requirements to become a Green Community, and now plans to submit the application to the state, according to Rourke.
  • Adoption of the code is just one step Waltham has taken to become a join the Green Community Program, run by the state Department Of Energy and Resources, which would make it eligible for future funding for renewable energy projects, according to Rourke.
  • The city has also created a more efficient building permit process, adopted a policy for purchasing "green" vehicles as well as created a plan to become more energy efficient. The Waltham Energy Action Committee was formed last year and did all of the work to become a Green Community.
  • So far, 101 communities statewide, , have adopted the code, according to the Department of Energy Resources Web site.
  • Rourke, however, acknowledged, the code could be adopted at any time. “You could adopt it at any point in time,” Rourke said.
  • Giordano also said he was concerned that the rate of return on saving energy would not be worth adopting the new code.
  •  The council also passed a request, by City Councillor Thomas Stanley, to have the city’s building inspection department to consult with buildings on the costs the new code would impose on anybody who builds a new home or puts an addition on their existing home.

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