This is a report compiled from decisions made in our October public meeting and the following subcommitte meeting. Subcommittee members gave to stake holders in the community to invite them to our second meeting on November 15. It was also sent out to a list serve of local people who are interested in sustainability.
Sustainability Codes for Madison County, Kentucky
A group of central Kentucky residents has been meeting for the purpose of generating a set of green zoning and housing codes for Madison County. These codes, when adopted by the Fiscal Court, will allow for ecologically sustainable home and multi-home development. Currently, Madison County’s codes assume for-profit development for sale to individual owners. Hence, there is great concern that unscrupulous developers will take advantage of the more flexible standards required for sustainable technologies. Duane Curry, who oversees planning and zoning in the county, as well as the Madison County planning and zoning board have encouraged us to come up with guidelines for green building that will allow sustainable technologies to be incorporated into home building with a minimal risk of abuse .
The National Homebuilder’s Association (N.H.A.) has developed a set of green building standards that could provide a good basis for developing codes for the county. These can be adapted to address the unique needs of Madison County and to overcome the barriers that many of us interested in sustainable building have encountered. So far, we have come up with the following categories to guide the process. We welcome your comments and/or additions and invite you to our next meeting on Monday November 15.
1. On-site sourcing of water, heat, sewer, electric and storm water management. Currently in some parts of the county new homes in Madison County are required to hook into municipal utilities such as water and sewer even if the water needs of the home can be fully met with rain water collection, and even if the home has composting toilets and its waste water can be safely treated in a grey water garden.
2. Acknowledge common ownership of land so that the use of land is not evaluated solely by traditional lot division but by carrying capacity and health of the ecosystem of that piece of land.
3. Special provisions for owner builders who are experimenting with presently un-coded technologies. For instance, allowing owner-builders to live in their home while experimenting with new sustainable technologies to evaluate the technology’s feasibility.
4. Out-come or performance based criteria for evaluation of a project. For example, it might require that the annual electric use in a green home be less than 50 % of the average U.S. household use. Currently, codes are based on energy efficiency stipulating how much insulation, etc. one must have which does not necessarily reduce overall electric demand of that house.
5. Incentives for builders to incorporate a high number of sustainable principles that minimize environmental impact. The N.H.A. standards give point values to each sustainable building standard. The higher the points, the better the rating. Highly rated homes may gain special privileges like an exemption from connecting to municipal water treatment.
We invite you to our next meeting at Richmond Branch of the Madison County Library Monday November 15 to share your ideas and advise us on next steps.