Building green is the law in Baltimore City. And while the mandatory requirement for all to build green has been in effect since July 1, 2009, the City has just announced the regulations (that were, arguably, to have been effective July 1, 2009) were promulgated last week, effective September 16, 2010.
Make no mistake, Baltimore City is not green washing. To the contrary, it was an early adopter when it enacted a green building law in 2007 that, today, remains among the most sweeping of that in any major American city.
Baltimore City Building Code, Chapter 37 mandates that all newly constructed, extensively modified non-residential, and specific multi-family residential buildings, that have or will have at least 10,000 square feet of gross floor area, “for which a building permit application is filed on or after July 1, 2009 must achieve a silver-level rating in the appropriate LEED rating system, as certified by the Green Building Council”. (Mandating that privately owned buildings be constructed to a LEED standard is no less controversial than religion or politics.)
”Extensively modified” is a modification that alters more than 50% of the building’s gross floor area (such that many major renovations will have to be LEED silver certified is a big deal).
The City Code further requires that “the Building Official must issue regulations to administer .. [this law and that] those regulations must specify: 1. The LEED rating system, and any equivalent energy and environmental design standard, that applies to each type of covered building.”
As the key component of those regulations, the City has developed its own “equivalent” green building standard, based largely upon the LEED 2009 rating standards, layered with fast, flexible new approaches to sustainability taking advantage of the powerful opportunities and challenges of building in an older urban area. A City checklist of 150 credits (versus 110 credits on a LEED checklist) has been released for new construction.
The game changing regulations create the “Baltimore City Green Building Standards” enabling an applicant to satisfy the law with either at a minimum LEED silver certification or obtain a “2 Star” (on a 5 star scale) City approval under those City Green Building Standards.
Building permit applications are, today, being accepted utilizing the Baltimore City Green Building Standards even in advance of the regulations being final.
There are opportunities to prosper and thrive in the greening of Baltimore. All are welcome.
Article by Stuart Kaplow, an attorney, based in Baltimore, with a real estate practice concentrating in green building and sustainable business.