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Louisville city council weighs impact of green building codes on Marshall Fire victims

Louisville city council weighs impact of energy-efficient building codes on Marshall Fire victims
Posted at 10:22 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 00:32:44-05

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — As Louisville residents look to rebuild following the devastating Marshall Fire, some feel the recovery process has been stifled by the city's green building codes.

The codes were adopted in Nov. 2021, aiming to have a net-zero carbon footprint from all new-home construction in Louisville. Essentially, the codes aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

During Tuesday's city council meeting, council members listened to just over two hours of public comment on the matter. The lengthy discourse follows a protest held on Sunday against the green building codes.

The codes require builders to use high-performing materials for windows, insulation and siding. Page 102 of the meeting's agenda shows various cost analysis. The city also shared a more than 600 page document with details of the green rebuilding process.

City council members could vote to repeal, modify or keep the codes.

Some residents feel the clean energy measures will make it too costly to rebuild. City leaders have maintained that rebates, equipment discounts and donations will help residents during the process.

"When people are just struggling to rebuild what we had, it feels like you all are not listening to us," said one resident.

Another resident urged city leaders to keep the energy-efficient goals.

"Do not roll back the codes," a man said, adding that he believes the city's 2018 codes would create new homes as "tinder boxes."

Some asked the council to create incentives for those who build back green.

One resident told Denver7 that her losses prevented her from ruminating on the matter.

"We lost our entire home, we lost our dogs," she said through tears. "Gracie, who was a golden retriever, Phil, who was an English bulldog, and little Hazel, who was a Yorkshire Terrier and chihuahua mix. Then we lost our cat."

"It's hard to even kind-of form opinions on most things right now, including what to have for dinner. As a person, I support the green codes. I want all of us as human beings to do more and to do what we can do... but with having to start over, without knowing that we were going to build with a requirement of green builds, it makes it harder to know what we can do moving forward."

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday night, the city council still had not reached a final decision.

On Monday, the town of Superior updated its building code to require energy efficiency processes on new construction while allowing exemptions for Marshall Fire victims to rebuild at codes passed in 2018.