Norman first Okla. city to commit to clean energy
The city of Norman, Okla., wants to become a statewide leader in environmental policy.
Its City Council has approved a resolution to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, reports the Norman Transcript. The measure makes Norman the first city in Oklahoma to make such a commitment to renewables and will see the city tap sources like wind a solar for electricity.
By 2050, the resolution calls for 100 percent clean energy commitment across the board.
The resolution was crafted by the Norman Ready for 100 policy committee and received broad support from the community. Though discussions have taken place, how the city will reach that goal is to be determined.
In the same meeting, the city also approved offering incentives to homebuilders who build more energy efficient homes, becoming the first city in Oklahoma to do so.
The program waives a percentage of city’s building permit fee based on the nationally recognized Home Energy Rating System (HERS)/Energy Rating Index (ERI) for energy efficiency. The lower the HERS score, the more energy efficient the house and the bigger the discount on the permit.
Newly constructed single-family homes built to code in Norman average a HERS rating of 100. A home that meets the minimum threshold (HERS rating of 65) to cash in on the incentive would be 35 percent more efficient.
Under the pilot program, which begins July 1, homes that achieve a HERS rating of 55 could be exempt from the city’s building permit fee altogether.
That’s not to say homebuilders will pay less to build these homes than their less-efficient counterparts. HERS ratings are determined by third-party inspection. The national average cost of certification is $450 per home and includes three site visits and diagnostic testing, according to Residential Energy Services Network. That cost adds to increased building costs.
Still, Curtis McCarty, of CA McCarty Construction, said it’s worth it.
McCarty said every home his company has built over the last two years has a HERS rating, and he believes anything that can be done to reduce carbon footprint is a positive step.
He said many homebuyers aren’t very familiar with the HERS rating system, but over time, that could change as homebuyers lean toward prioritizing more energy-efficient homes and become more educated about how improved energy efficiency saves money over time.
The Ready for 100 campaign is a national bipartisan effort to move toward renewable energy. Norman Ready for 100 is working on a broad scope energy plan to submit to the council by January 2020.