Winthrop residents considering an addition to their homes and local property developers may soon have a new set of building energy codes to contend with, as the Town Council considers a proposal to adopt the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code, in an effort to achieve â€˜Green Communityâ€™ status with the State Department of Energy Resources and qualify for more than $150,000 in non-competitive grant funds.
Winthrop Building Inspector James Soper and Grants Administrator Peter Lombardi briefed the Council on the proposal to adopt the Stretch Code at last weekâ€™s (April 17) Council meeting and the Council referred the proposal to its Committee on Rules and Ordinances, for a hearing that was scheduled for Tuesday (April 24) after the Sun-Transcriptâ€™s deadline.
According to Soper, 106 Massachusetts communities have already adopted the â€˜Stretch Code,â€™ which aims to ensure that new commercial and residential building projects are held to a higher, more energy efficient standard before receiving certificates of Occupancy from local building commissions.
However, most of the stateâ€™s higher population communities have already adopted the Stretch Code, representing approximately 47 percent of the stateâ€™s population in those 106 cities and towns.
â€œWhat the code specifically does is require new construction projects to pass certain checklist approvals,â€ said Soper.
That requirement and the new standards can add to the cost of building, but Soper added that in most cases the additional expense of building is off-set in the savings that are realized from operating a more energy efficient building, once it is completed.
â€˜For example, the state estimates that for a new residential building of 3,000 square feet, the additional cost to meet the code requirement would be about $2,700,â€ said Soper. â€œBut the added cost would be spread out over the length of a mortgage to buy that home, resulting in a cost to homeowners of less than a couple of dollars per month, but the savings from owning a more energy efficient home would be realized back to that homeowner – about $500 per year – in about five years.â€
From the townâ€™s perspective, Lombardi said the adoption of the Stretch Code helps Winthrop meet one of several requirements under the stateâ€™s Green Communities legislation, in order for the town to be designated as a â€œgreen Community by the DOER.
â€œOnce the town receives the Green Community designation, it would be eligible for grant funding of between $125,000 and $175,000 in non-competitive state grants in the first year,â€ said Lombardi.