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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Atlanta's 'green' building ordinance to get City Council hearing (Update)

On Tuesday, July 28, an Atlanta City Council committee will discuss the long-planned "sustainable building ordinance," a beast of a bill that dictates green-building standards for new construction. Supporters say it could make Atlanta one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the country.

The legislation — which has been in the works since last summer — is a key part of the Sustainable Atlanta Initiative, a multi-pronged approach to meet Mayor Shirley Franklin's goal to reduce the city's carbon footprint. (PDF of Sustainable Building Ordinance) Included in the ordinance are water-conservation measures, energy-efficiency guidelines, material requirements and various other green-building standards.

At more than 65 pages, the bill covers everything from sink fixtures in your home to spray wands at the car wash. Buildings must meet one or four green-building certifications, including EarthCraft or LEED certification. Under the current language, only new commercial, residential, institutional and industrial buildings taller than three stories would be required to comply with the ordinance. Single-family homes, structures that don't require running water or electricity and historic buildings would be exempt. The ordinance would take effect one year after passage. It's an ambitious initiative and worth a look.

Green building codes have the tendency to become hot-button issues. Some traditional builders and developers have argued that the standards are unfair, expensive and that government has no right to set mandates to reduce the effects of global warming. Architects and urban planners usually applaud them because they enforce methods that are lend to better-built homes that lessen our impact on the environment while also saving homeowners money.

We've called the usual suspects to see if there's any concern in their camps. We haven't heard back just yet.

After the jump, I've pasted one paragraph that caught my eye for its potential impact on people who might enjoy the occasional Pall Mall in their chic, hi-rise apartment.

From pg. 46 in the document:

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Does this mean every new condo building is going to have those cute little glassed-in smoking huts more commonly seen in airports? You can't even smoke in your apartment?

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