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Energy Recommendations Include Renovation Restrictions

A task force convened by the county board has released its list of preliminary recommendations for reducing carbon-based energy consumption in Arlington.

The ambitious and sometimes ambiguous recommendations range from tax incentives for energy efficiency to installing 160 megawatts worth of solar electricity generating capacity to migrating high density neighborhoods to district energy systems (centralized heating and cooling plants serving numerous buildings).

One recommendation that may receive particular resident scrutiny is a requirement that all new home renovations, starting in 2015, must prove a 30 percent gain in energy efficiency (over today’s average). Likewise, all new commercial building renovations must prove that the work will provide a 50 percent gain in efficiency.

As for new development, new houses will need to prove 30 percent higher efficiency than current code starting in 2015. On the commercial side, “new construction planning requests will also be expected to include a narrative regarding how they will meet the higher levels of efficiency. Incentives may be provided to developers in exchange for higher energy performance.

How would the new efficiency rules be enforced? It’s unclear. The Sun Gazette noted that during a public task force meeting on Friday, “all seemed to agree the that biggest challenge [is] determining how to turn the proposals into concrete applications.”

The recommendations will be discussed at a public community energy forum, to be held at Wakefield High School one month from today (from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on October 21).

The county board could take action to implement some of the community energy plan recommendations as soon as April 2011.

Flickr pool photo by Alykat.

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