In an effort to reduce the city's carbon footprint, the Solana Beach City Council adopted a green building program to encourage energy efficient and environmentally sensitive remodels and new structures.
The city will offer several incentives to encourage green building, including expedited permit processing, public recognition and a $1,000 permit fee refund for the first 15 green projects.
"We're paying people to save our environment," council member Dave Roberts said. "A small investment is worth it."
The voluntary program includes a different certification process for commercial than for residential.
To earn recognition and incentives, commercial projects must meet or exceed the silver level of LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the respected industry standards for green building.
This is also the level that the city will require all public facilities or publically funded projects to achieve.
Residential projects can also be LEED certified, but that can be difficult to accomplish for individual homeowners. Instead, the city adopted the slightly easier, but effective GreenPoint Rated program from an organization called Build It Green.
The California-based nonprofit certifies homes if they incorporate at least 50 points on a 100 point scale. Homeowners pay a third-party certifier to confirm their checklist, which costs between $700 and $1,500, and homeowners receive a certificate from Build It Green.
All projects attempting to achieve green certification from either entity will be given priority processing at the city's building counter, which can save a significant amount of time.
When a green project is complete, the owner, design and construction team will be publically recognized, if they agree, on the city's Web site, in the city newsletter and during council meetings.
The first 15 projects to receive Build It Green or LEED Silver certification will be refunded $1,000. If a project achieves the highest and hardest LEED Platinum level, the refund jumps to $1,500.
The program passed 4-1, with Deputy Mayor Tom Campbell dissenting. Campbell was supportive of the program but strongly disagreed with requiring city projects to meet LEED standards without first knowing the financial impacts.
"I understand needing to be a leader, but I'd hate to obligate ourselves in a policy, especially, when financial times are tough," Campbell said. "We are eliminating the ability to make a determination when projects come up."
The program will save the city money over time through resource and energy efficiency, City Manager David Ott said.