Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Long Island Towns Adopt 'Energy Star' Standard for New Homes

I missed this a few days ago, but it's definitely still worth covering: the towns of Brookhaven and Babylon on New York's Long Island have made energy efficiency the law, according to the New York Times. Both communities now require that all new houses built adhere to Energy Star homebuilding standards:

The new laws put both Brookhaven and Babylon in the vanguard of towns in New York State that have passed measures requiring a level of "green" home building. They are the first on Long Island to do so, but several other towns are considering identical or similar measures.

"“We'’re encouraging every town to adopt this measure,"” said Neal Lewis, executive director of the Neighborhood Network, a Farmingdale-based nonprofit energy conservation organization that is credited with publicizing the home building standard and encouraging towns to change building codes to require it.

Energy Star homes will save homeowners money on energy costs by requiring, for example, certain types of insulation and installation techniques, and the use of energy-efficient appliances.

Builders aren't convinced this is a great idea yet because it creates different building codes for different towns, and only a handful of inspectors are trained in the Energy Star standards. In response, the power authority is providing $25,000 grants to towns that adopt the standard, and Brookhaven and Babylon have agreed to a three-part phasing in of the new requirement. Builders apparently have a reason to be concerned: another town, Southampton, adopted a similar measure, but it will only apply to moderately-priced homes -- McMansions get a pass... grrr...

New homes will certainly be built (builders estimate 2,000 in the next year just in Brookhaven and Babylon), so this is a good effort to use energy more efficiently (and to prevent blackouts, a major motivator for the law). Of course, we get into an issue that I took a drubbing for on Treehugger some time back -- does this merely give a green tinge to suburban sprawl? I look forward to your responses. Also, these towns are quite near the home of friend of sustainablog Kenny Luna -- Kenny, got any inside information? We already know, of course, that many schoolchildren in the area already have CFLs ready for installation...


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