Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting Department services are available virtually 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The office is open to walk-in customers (no appointment necessary) Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. On Tuesdays the department is open by appointment only from 12:30–4:30 p.m.
Boulder County BuildSmart Zero Net Energy
Boulder County BuildSmart, the county’s residential green building code, affects all new residential construction and additions in unincorporated Boulder County.
The Boulder County BuildSmart Regulations encourage high-performing, sustainable residential development and redevelopment in the unincorporated areas of Boulder County by promoting development that will: create energy efficient structures that reduce both the production of greenhouse gases from residential buildings and the amount of material sent to landfills, conserve water and other natural resources in the homebuilding process, and insure proper indoor air quality. Boulder County BuildSmart also furthers the goals and measures outlined in the Colorado Climate Action Plan and the County’s Sustainable Energy Plan.
To further these goals, Zero Net Energy is currently required for new homes above 5,000 square feet of conditioned floor area in unincorporated Boulder County.
Zero Net Energy Homes
A Zero Net Energy building produces as much energy as it consumes, usually through a mix of high efficiency and clean onsite power generation. In Boulder County, homes consume nearly one-third of the energy used in the county, thus the residential sector is responsible for a significant portion of our greenhouse gas emissions. Boulder County’s proposed goal to require all new residential construction to be Zero Net Energy by 2022 is an essential step to moving our county toward a sustainable future, and protect the health and economic prosperity of our community.
Green Building and Net Zero Energy are the future of home construction
The U.S. Green Building Council forecasts that green building will comprise 84 percent of new home construction by 2018, thus high-performance homes will dominate the market in the coming years.
The Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Homes is a national program that showcases how Zero Net Energy homes are becoming more mainstream and valuable to homeowners.
The California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission have launched a residential Zero Net Energy Action Plan to build a self-sustaining market for all new homes to be net-zero energy by 2020.
Since the introduction of BuildSmart in 2008, dozens of new homes have achieved the Zero Net Energy level of energy efficiency. These homes will continue to reap the rewards of super low utility bills for decades.
Total costs for Zero Net Energy homes are lower, and there are financial incentives to build efficiently
While the total cost of constructing a Zero Net Energy home can add construction costs compared to building a conventional home, the costs are reducing quickly as the cost residential rooftop solar and high efficiency equipment declines.A Zero Net Energy home is cheaper to operate with little to no utility costs compared to an annual average of $1500 per Colorado home
Home buyers may be eligible for incentives and rebates. For example, the Colorado Energy Mortgage Incentive Program from the Colorado Energy Office provides a loan benefit to home buyers/homeowners based on energy efficiency ratings. New home buyers who purchase a home with a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Rating of 50 or less may qualify for rebates of up to $8,000.
There are many direct benefits to homeowners and our community
Zero Net Energy homes are healthier for you and the planet.
According to ZeroHomes.org, these homes are healthier for you — with better air quality that reduces pollutants, allergens, and mold.
Given more than a third of Boulder County’s greenhouse gas emissions come from inefficient homes, a Zero Net Energy home draws very little to none from dirty sources of energy. This is an important way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
Zero Net Energy homes are more resilient
Due to sturdier construction, Zero Net Energy homes are more disaster-resistant and last longer than conventional homes.
Zero Net Energy homes are not as dependent on vulnerable grid systems because they have their own generation of power, particularly homes that have power storage.
The high performance building thermal envelopes that are needed to achieve a net zero home allow these homes to “coast through” many unanticipated events such as power outages and severe cold spells.