Truckee is putting green into building laws | SierraSun.com

Truckee is putting green into building laws

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun file photoThe Old Greenwood development received a green certification last year for environmentally conscious building. The Town of Truckee wants to encourage green building practices through the town's development code.

At the kickoff discussion Tuesday of Truckee’s development code update, town officials debated how to include green building and how to get people involved in the process.

In a joint workshop Tuesday of the Truckee Town Council and Planning Commission, officials began to strategize how to take the policies of the town’s recently updated general plan and turn them into law within the development code.

While the review process will require a lot of work to meet the proposed April 30 deadline, a few issues stood out as particularly challenging.

“You are making law,” Town Planner Duane Hall told council members and commissioners Tuesday. “To use the analogy of sausage making ” you may love the end result, but not watching putting it together.”

Among the meat and gristle to be ground is the question of how Truckee can incorporate green building ” a constantly changing field ” into the development code.

Even though the town has adopted some policy on environmentally friendly construction in the general plan update, Hall said the field has changed in just the past year. Rapidly evolving building practices may require the town to revisit the subject.

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Council member Josh Susman discussed two ways to treat the issue ” by working on green building standards in parallel to the development code update, or leaving a place holder in the code for when town planners arrive at definitive conclusions on green building.

Vice-chair Jeff Bender suggested coming up with ways to encourage developers to practice green construction rather than mandating it, a sentiment echoed by Executive Director Pat Davison of the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe.

“We support the general plan policy for voluntary, incentive-based green building,” Davison said. “This is such a complicated, multifaceted issue.”

But Planning Commission Chair Bob Johnston said with the State of California setting policy for environmental standards, the town may need a more aggressive approach.

“When I went to a Green Building Committee meeting I asked an architect, ‘Is this a big deal?’ and that person said he didn’t think [green building standards] were a big deal,” Johnston said. “A lot of communities are way ahead of Truckee on this.”

Beyond the question of how to revise the development code, officials also discussed how to keep the public involved in the update.

“Staff is still putting a list together ” we are contacting homeowners associations, neighborhood associations ” we’ve got a pretty good idea,” Hall said.

Council member Barbara Green said that beyond the public meetings, the public should be informed by televising all meetings, and publishing information regularly in local newspapers.