Better insulation, dual-paned windows and low-flow toilets may not be high points designers talk about when it comes to buildings.
But they may be points of pride in future municipal buildings in Chandler if the City Council approves higher energy-efficiency standards on Thursday.
With the Green Building Program, Chandler would join Scottsdale, Phoenix, Queen Creek, Tucson, Flagstaff, Apache Junction and Oro Valley as the only communities in the state building to the internationally accepted "green" benchmarks created by LEED, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a third-party certification program that is overseen by the U.S. Green Building Council.
"We feel that it's important the city set an example and be a leader and do green building," said city planner Jason Crampton, who is guiding the city's efforts. "If we want private development to get into green building ... we think it's important for the city to take that first step to show it is feasible and makes sense economically and environmentally."
Under the proposal, all city construction of 5,000 square feet or more would be designed to meet the silver certification under LEED. There are four levels awarded: LEED, LEED Silver, LEED Gold and LEED Platinum.
The new 18,420-square-foot fire administration building was designed to meet the LEED Silver standard, Crampton said. Work on the building's site near Boston Street and Arizona Avenue has begun. Building cost is estimated at $5 million, while the design work, site and infrastructure cost about $7.5 million, acting fire Chief Tom Carlson wrote in an e-mail.
The future City Hall complex is pursuing gold certification, Crampton said. Studies have shown that adding these components to construction adds between 1 percent and 5 percent to the cost of a project, he said. "You see a pretty good energy savings with LEED Silver, 30 percent to 35 percent reduced energy use on average," he said. "Water use is reduced 40 percent. The indoors is enhanced with better air quality for the workforce and customers."
The resolution would also provide private, nonresidential developers with funds to apply for LEED certification. For the first year of the program, the council is being asked to allocate $75,000 to community education and the certificate program. Private builders could apply to be reimbursed for the certification, which costs between $1,750 and $17,500, depending on building size, Crampton said.
"We have been encouraging energy consciousness and sustainable techniques," to private builders, city director of planning and development Doug Ballard said. "Sustainability has been a watchword for us for a long time. This is the first time we've articulated it in a policy."
The planning and development department will bring a new set of building codes before the council later this summer. It includes for the first time energy-efficiency standards that private builders will be required to meet for family, multifamily and nonresidential buildings in the city.
Not at the same level as LEED, the International Building Code Energy Code provides "minimum standards to meet for construction: double-glazed windows, a certain amount of insulation, energy-efficient electrical systems and things of that nature. So there's some regulatory aspect to it," Ballard said. There is a transition period for builders. Proposals now in the plan-review or design process will not be required to meet the new standards, Ballard said.