Las Vegas Eases Up On Older Buildings’ Energy Efficiency Standards

by | Jun 24, 2013

Energy efficiency insulationThe Las Vegas city council has exempted downtown buildings constructed before 2009 from being compliant with the city’s energy code, so energy efficiency regulations governing insulation, lighting, air conditioning units and other systems won’t be enforced for older commercial buildings, the Las Vegas Sun reports.

City councilman Bob Beers felt the energy code was too burdensome on small businesses, especially those seeking to renovate drafty buildings downtown. Beers, who sponsored the bill, supports sustainability but said requiring businesses to invest in energy efficiency improvements that won’t necessarily be paid back through lower electricity bills is unfair, the Sun reports.

The city council approved the bill in a 4 to 3 vote, after considering the case of a downtown restaurant located in a converted garage that represents the negative effects of the energy code. At a hearing on the energy code, the Mingo Kitchen & Lounge presented how it was expected to spend $34,000 in insulation and other improvement that will not save any energy or costs since it has an open air layout.

Architects, engineers and sustainability advocates protested changes to the energy code, arguing that the way the energy code is phrased does allow buildings to meet standards in an affordable way or get waivers when not applicable to specific buildings, so there was no need to exempt all older buildings from the requirements.

The Vegas city council was split on how to balance business development and sustainability goals. Any changes to the code will put the city at odds with Nevada’s state energy code, so the exemption for older commercial buildings could lead to a legal challenge – but the city is allowed to tweak the code to suit local conditions and it could stand its ground on the reasoning that the code impacts economic development, city attorney Brad Jerbic told the Sun.

Small businesses in Vegas are not the only ones seeking allowances. Last week, in a survey conducted across nine countries, Accenture explored the energy needs and preferences of 2,200 small- and medium-sized businesses and found that only 35 percent of the respondents believe that the products, services and support currently offered by energy providers are specific to their business needs.

Last month, Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) went live with an online database of energy-related legislation pending in all 50 states. The Advanced Energy Legislation (AEL) Tracker, which was created in partnership with Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), is available to the general public.

Photo credit: Red Moon Sanctuary via Flickr

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