Build green

I like the sound of this.

Houston builders will have to incorporate “green” design techniques such as heat-trapping vestibules and “cool roofs” that deflect sunlight under a proposed new energy code for commercial buildings.

The City Council could pass the new code for commercial buildings on Wednesday. A new residential code also is being developed and could come before the council next month.

Houston adopted its first energy codes in 2002 in response to a state mandate. This would be the first update, and it is decidedly more “green” than its predecessor.


The code would require simple things like covers for heated pools. But it delves into specific material requirements for required “cool roofs” that absorb less solar radiation. Acceptable types of window glass would have to strike a balance between energy insulation and a good view, Blake said.

New buildings of at least four stories would be required to have vestibules to prevent Houston’s hot, humid air from rushing in when doors open and close. That was an addition to the engineering code created especially for the city’s climate, said Bob Burch, an engineer with Carter & Burgess and a member of the city’s Construction Industry Council. The CIC, an umbrella association for various builders groups, worked with the city on the new code.

Burch chaired the code-writing committee, which included city officials and representatives from contracting, real estate, architecture and green building organizations.

One would hope this means there isn’t any organized opposition to this plan. At the very least, the article doesn’t quote any opponents.

Burch said many of the requirements would pay for themselves in three years, or less.

“The entire industry is going toward the green,” he said. “These are all things that are industry-proven and can be done and should be done.”

I presume one reason for codifying this, beyond simply making a statement that the city believes in it, is that there will always be some builders who don’t believe in it, or who’d rather take the short-term savings and cut corners. This is why I prefer a regulatory approach to a voluntary one.

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