Building Task Force Looks at Green Concepts

Building Task Force Looks at Green Concepts
FORT WORTH, TX - Anyone looking to build an environmentally friendly building in Fort Worth may soon have some incentives from the city to move forward. Mayor Mike Moncrief created a sustainability and green building task force in August 2007, and members of the task force currently are working on putting together incentives for businesses and those hoping to build "green" in the city, said Brian Boerner, the city's director of environmental management, who is on the task force.

"The buzz words in a lot of the political realm are green and sustainability. A lot of cities are coming up with green policies and we have, in the city of Fort Worth, we have been on the forefront of a lot of sustainable technologies and environmental programs for the last decade," Boerner said. "And so, the mayor thought it would be good to get a group of people together to sort of chart where we wanted to go."

The group's mission is fairly loose, Boerner said, and is intended to simply answer the question: Where do we go from here? "We want to be sustainable in Fort Worth, we have a wonderful quality of life recognized around the country, we have a wonderful economy, we have growth potential, and what do we do to make sure we protect all of this still are able to provide this quality of life," Boerner said.

The group has broad goals to create incentives for green building that can be incorporated into city policies and into the city's comprehensive plan to use as a touchstone moving forward, Boerner said. Beginning in August of 2007, the committee began holding meetings with public municipalities and groups in construction to draft a plan outlining large goals for the long term and specifics to use in the short term, Boerner said.

The Fort Worth Planning and Development department currently is looking into the recommendations, if they are finalized the task force will make a presentation to the City Council in December. The recommendations "are fairly conceptual, but we talk about the way we go about permitting, for example, and incorporating innovative design into a fairly rigid building permit or building code," Boerner said.

One of the most well-known forms of "green" certification include the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. The LEED-rating system originated after the Green Building Council was founded in 1993 because "there was no consensus rating system of what a green building was," said Ashley Katz, spokesperson for the Green Building Council.

While the LEED rating system is a popular way to determine if a building is environmentally-friendly, the city is looking for broader definitions so builders have more options, Boerner said. "All green buildings aren't LEED buildings, it's a method to get you there and we talked a lot about LEED, but there's also other protocols that get you to the same end point so we don't want to lock ourselves into one brand of green," Boerner said. "This is going to be very heavily based on education and incentives as opposed to enforcement or a regulatory-type of method. If someone wants to put up a LEED building, we support that, but if somebody else has a better idea of a better way, a faster and less expensive way to build, then we want to hear that as well."

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