Council to Address Tougher Energy Efficiency Standards

A proposal to require more stringent energy efficiency standards of new developments and additions within Santa Barbara City limits got a strong pat on the back by the City Council’s Ordinance Committee, which voted 2-1 to refer the matter to the entire council. Although the plan was opposed by a few architects and lighting consultants, it was backed by all the major utility companies, the Association of American Architects, the Santa Barbara Contractors Association, and the Community Environmental Council Councilmember Frank Hotchkiss opposed the measure, questioning, “Is now the best time for something like this?” Hotchkiss argued the additional costs imposed by these requirements would take 20 years to pay for themselves. But Anne Kale, a lighting architect, said the additional costs would pay for themselves in energy savings in the first five years; after that, she said, they’d yield a return on investment of seven percent. Councilmember Bendy White noted that Americans’ per capital energy consumption was the highest in the world and that the new efficiency requirements barely qualified as a small contribution. “As someone who develops houses, I know what 80 cents a square foot looks like,” White said, referring to the additional costs the requirements would impose. “I can handle that.”

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