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Dallas Strengthens Green Building Code

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Dallas Strengthens Green Building Code

An updated set of standards in Dallas will ensure that city officials aren't the only ones concerned with green building.

This month the city mandated that all residential and commercial projects must meet the minimum requirements of its Green Construction Code or be certifiable by organizations like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or Green Built Texas. Dallas established its green ordinance with the help of a task force five years ago, slowly rolling out additional layers—including energy, water and roof provisions—every so often for various structure types and sizes. The first phase began in 2009, while Phase 2 was initiated Oct. 1, though city council passed the ordinance last fall.

Dallas has adopted an updated green building code.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

"Thanks to all the great work of the Green Building Task Force and community input and engagement, Phase 2 implementation has started up very smoothly with a lot of public and industry support," Zaida Basora, assistant director of the city’s public works department, told the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Dallas is among the first cities to enforce a green building code. California's code kicks in Jan. 1, 2014, though some cities in the state, like San Francisco, have already enforced green codes.

Building permit seekers in Dallas now have to attend a six-hour training course and pass exams for both residential and commercial projects. Builders for either type of project also must provide documented experience in the design, construction, management or inspection of green projects.

Other requirements include a conflict-of-interest policy requiring a third party to review green building projects and compliance with LEED or the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

Single family residential projects should meet the minimum requirements of International Code Council 700—the National Green Building Standard. Lots must be designed so that at least 70 percent of the built environment is permeable, according to an interpretation from Green Building Law Update. Projects must utilize drip irrigation for all "bedding areas" of landscaping.

The city first implemented a green building program a decade ago. There are about 144 LEED certified facilities in Dallas, according to the USGBC.

"The City of Dallas has a goal of being carbon neutral by 2030, and this is one big step towards that goal," Meredith Hunt, sustainability manager at Dallas-based T Howard & Associates, wrote in a blog. "Cities across the U.S. are beginning to adopt the 2012 IgCC, as a whole or in parts ... As a new code to follow, there may be a few hiccups in the beginning, but we believe this is a great step forward by the City of Dallas."

 

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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