Milestone 2: Define the Sustainability Goals of the Community and Examine Existing Policies and Ordinances

A new green building program is much more likely to succeed if it is in alignment with the sustainability goals of the community. Effective sustainability goals should be specific and measurable. Existing goals, policies and ordinances should be analyzed for compatibility or potential conflict with the jurisdiction’s green building goals.  Specific steps could include:

  1. Define the measurable sustainability goals of the community.
  2. Examine existing policies and ordinances for compatibility with a green building program.
  3. Address policy barriers or other incompatibility issues through further goal setting, policy change and/or interdepartmental collaboration.
  4. Choose a program implementation strategy that minimizes conflict with existing policies and ordinances.

If one program element is deemed more important than others, a jurisdiction may take an incremental approach, adopting the most critical components of the green building code first.  For example, some jurisdictions have an immediate need to conserve water, while others may give higher priority to saving energy.

Implementation Tools and Resources

Sustainable Design and Green Building Toolkit for Local Governments 
Published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Region 4 in June 2010, this publication can be used as a resource to inventory existing policies and ordinances within the jurisdiction, and to evaluate the compatibility or potential conflict with community goals.  It can be downloaded at: www.epa.gov/region4/recycle/green-building-toolkit.pdf.

Consider the following points when evaluating community goals, policies and ordinances:

  1. What are the specific issues that we are trying to solve?
  2. Do we have identifiable goals and associated timelines to address those goals?
  3. Are those goals measurable?
  4. Are we confident that we adequately understand, enforce, and obtain compliance with the currently adopted building codes, particularly the energy conservation code?
  5. Are there any currently adopted codes or ordinances that already address the identified goals?
  6. If so, have measurable metrics been applied to those codes/ordinances?