Friday, September 14, 2007

Energy Efficiency Building Requirements: Hawaii’s Regulatory Maze

Hawaii is littered with various sustainable building guidelines and requirements at the state and local government levels, from statutes and ordinances, to agency rules and informal policies.

The patchwork of building design standards include:
  • HRS § 46-19.5 (1994), requiring counties to incorporate the energy efficiency building standards of ASHRAE 90.1 into its building codes by 1994.

  • HRS § 46-19.6 (2006), requiring counties to expedited permitting for developers who chose to incorporate “energy and environmental design building standards.”

  • HRS § 196-9 (2006), requiring agencies to implement LEED Silver or other nationally recognized standard “to the extent possible.”

  • Revised Ordinances of Honolulu § 2-9.3 (2006), requiring county buildings to implement LEED Silver if doing so is not “infeasible or inappropriate.”
  • The Office of Planning’s recent position at the state land use commission that the Commission should extend HRS § 196-9’s public buildings LEED Silver requirement to private buildings as a condition on state district boundary amendments (e.g., p. 97, Docket No. A99‐728(a)). This is a departure from the unusual requirement that developers employ energy conservation measures (apart from those already required under the county building code), which is a more flexible standard allowing for different types of energy efficiently methods and products depending on the project, use, and site location.

  • Guidelines for Sustainable Building Design in Hawai`i, A planner's checklist, OEQC, October 13, 1999. The checklist is described as “a checklist of items that will help the design team create projects that will have a minimal impact on Hawai`i's environment and make wise use of our natural resources. In a word, projects that are sustainable.”

This list is not exhaustive.

Unfortunately, most of these policies are not incentive based and may be costly to implement which, among other things, raises the cost of housing in the state. In addition, the policies tend to be reactionary in that they respond to new and emerging technologies which are untested in the marketplace. Unpredictability makes it difficult to forecast development costs and adds risk to the development process.

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