To the Editor:
Climate change is real. The oceans are rising, and, with each millimeter of rise, Hull becomes more vulnerable. Unless you live on one of the hills in town, you are in the direct path of sea-level rise. If you live on a hill, you are in danger of being cut off from the mainland. For many, the reaction is merely handwringing and the desperate feeling that individuals can do nothing to slow the inevitable.
However, on May 8 at town meeting, Hull residents will have the opportunity to take a stand against climate change. The town meeting warrant will contain an article that directly addresses the challenge we are facing.
The Planning Board is proposing an amendment to the zoning bylaw requiring all new commercial and residential buildings of three or more units to conform to green building standards. (I am a member of the Planning Board, but I am writing this letter as an individual and not as a representative of the Planning Board.) The bylaw amendment will require these developments to demonstrate that they are designed to meet the standards of one of the accepted green building rating systems. These include LEED (U.S. Green Building Council), Passive House Institute U.S., or Enterprise Communities. Certification by a rating agency is not required, which will save developers thousands of dollars in fees. However, developers must provide an affidavit confirming that the selected standards are being met from a green building professional who is a licensed architect or engineer and holds a credential from the applicable green building rating program. The green building amendment does not apply to new construction or renovations of single-family or two-family homes.
Certification as a green building focuses on energy efficiency, water efficiency, materials and resource use, indoor environmental quality, emissions, and operations and maintenance. Certification is based on a point system, allowing developers to make choices of how they wish to comply. Specific systems are not required. But, as the list above demonstrates, compliance is not just a benefit to the developer in reduced energy costs, but there are also benefits to the building residents and the entire town, with reductions in energy and resource use while improving indoor air quality.
The additional design and construction costs to comply are estimated to be less than 3 percent, with these costs being more than recovered through projected energy savings, making this a win-win for the town, the developers, and the new residents.
It is not every day that town residents can have the opportunity to take a stand to improve their future and help to guarantee a future for the town. While this amendment in Hull will not stop climate change, it will make a statement that Hull is leading the way to the future.
This important article deserves the support of all residents of Hull. We led the way once with wind generation, and now it is time to take the lead again. Working together, we can guarantee a future for our town and its residents.