Council mulls interim 'green' policy

CITY HALL — The City Council today will consider an interim green building policy for new development projects before a comprehensive, more permanent set of regulations are drafted.

The council last month held off on establishing the citywide policy, instead creating a community task force of local stakeholders to wrestle with the issue while city officials wait for pending green building codes to be approved by state legislators this summer.

Glendale’s top building safety official, Stuart Tom, recommended that the council wait for the state standards, which he said could be used as a starting point.

“I think it would be worthwhile to see what the state is going to have,” he said. In the meantime, city officials say an interim policy could hold development projects to similar standards. There are a number of projects in the pipeline that are expected to reach the dais for approval before a permanent policy is crafted, according to a city report.

In recent months, as various projects have come up for review, council members have stressed the importance of sustainable building, but without the regulations, they cannot impose requirements.

“We need to have something in place,” said Councilwoman Laura Friedman, an ardent supporter of green building practices.

She added that the majority of comparable cities have already enacted strict green building requirements.

Currently, only public projects are held to green building standards, and are budgeted to be equivalent to at least the silver level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, a national rating system administered by the U.S. Building Council.

At a joint meeting of the Redevelopment Agency, the City Council today will review a number of options for a temporary policy, including requiring developers to meet specific efficient and sustainable building standards. Another option would require the developers to meet LEED intent, but not enroll in the certification process.

The council will consider similar options for the permanent policy, but will also look at crafting their own separate set of standards to address questions about the benefits of some green building practices.

“There’s still some controversy about what is really the perceived benefit,” Planning Director Hassan Haghani said last month. “I think those are the types of questions that should probably be addressed in the task force discussions.”

The task force will likely include city planning commissioners, residents, members of the local development community and other stakeholders.

Friedman said crafting the permanent policy would require lengthy discussion with the stakeholders about the pros and cons of all the options, but that having a temporary policy in the meantime was a prudent step.

“My goal is really to get sustainable buildings,” Friedman said. “I think there are a lot of ways in getting there. They generally get you to around the same place.”

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