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Bethel approves resolution for green building policy

Jacqueline Herman
Posted 4/2/24

BETHEL — The Town of Bethel approved a Resolution to Adopt a Green Building Policy for all new construction, renovations, and expansions 60 days or more after the adoption, for Town owned …

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Bethel approves resolution for green building policy


BETHEL — The Town of Bethel approved a Resolution to Adopt a Green Building Policy for all new construction, renovations, and expansions 60 days or more after the adoption, for Town owned buildings. 

All covered projects shall be designed, constructed and managed to comply with the LEED Silver Standard, which emphasizes energy efficiency, or the PHIUS-Core, established at the time of final design.

The intent of The Green Building Policy is to promote environmentally sustainable practices which reduce energy use, operating costs, and enhance health and quality of life.

Bethel is one of the first certified Climate Smart Communities and has earned a Bronze Star Certification. It has long prioritized environmental sustainability and energy conservation as a designated Clean Energy Community. The planned construction projects to rebuild and expand the Town Hall and the Highway Garage are opportunities to build with energy efficiency and resource conservation, reducing the municipal government’s environmental impact.

Because major construction projects occur infrequently, such projects look to the future. The new Town Hall is planned to meet Phius Net Zero Passive Building Standards. When certain structures cannot meet the LEED or Phius standards, the policy sets forth possible alternatives to incorporate environmentally sustainability features.

Sustainable Bethel Committee members Jeff Allison and Michael Chojnicki, Architect commented on related topics. The Committee has decided to analyze and recommend methods for Bethel residents to improve energy efficiency to reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Allison explained that they have completed an inventory on Bethel greenhouse gas emissions which shows that 51 percent is from mobile transportation and 26 percent comes from residential buildings. 

“This will be a year of public outreach and education initiative,” Allison said. 


Intergrating the adoption

In addition, Sustainable Bethel will be advising the Comprehensive Plan Committee on including sustainability issues in the rewriting of the Comprehensive Plan. 

The Committee had researched and proposed that “Bethel adopt guidance on new government buildings.” Michael Chojnicki explained the steps taken by the Committee and the Town to adopt the Green Building Policy described above. Highlights of his detailed presentation are presented here.

Through The Climate Smart Communities Program, points are obtained by implementation of completed Actions. Certification Levels are credited with specified numbers of points. The Town is working to achieve the Silver Level, which makes it eligible for preferred operation status and grants. The Green Building Standard for the Town Hall does not need expensive third -party certification; it only needs to adopt the Standard recommendations.

There were four different Certification Programs to potentially use as our Standard. The Energy Star was researched by the Committee but there were too many drawbacks: information about it was scarce, it required annual verification of performance, and there were no Energy Star raters nearby. More research found that the LEED Silver Certification (administered by the U.S. Green Building Council) was more common among NYS municipalities, and many contractors are familiar with it. 

The newly planned Bethel Town Hall is designed using a Standard known as The Green Building Standard, of the Passive House Certification Program (administered by PHIUS) which is rigorously energy efficient.

The Committee found that both Energy Efficient Certification Programs could be referenced in the Town of Bethel’s Resolution for all new construction of municipal buildings. Thus, “new construction or renovations over $100,000 would need to follow either the LEED Silver Program or the Passive House, Phius Standard.” 

It is the architect’s responsibility “to design the structure [according] to one of the [two] listed standards”. Only the portion being renovated or only the expansion or addition need follow the Standard in those cases. If the application of the Standard is not practicable, an exemption would be granted, and another Green Building Standard and environmentally sound features should be incorporated.


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