City giving the green light: New pilot program to streamline permitting process

The City of Redmond has rolled out a new Residential Green Permitting Pilot Program designed to streamline the permitting process.

The City of Redmond has rolled out a new Residential Green Permitting Pilot Program designed to streamline the permitting process.

Instead of the four to six weeks that the process usually takes, this new incentive program for “green” home builders has a goal of getting a permit into a builder’s or prospective homeowner’s hands in just 10 days.

Jason Lynch, building official for the City of Redmond, introduced the concept at Redmond City Hall on the morning of June 19.

“Where we’ve come from is increasing sustainability,” to meet the goals of the city’s comprehensive plan, Lynch noted.

Core Development Services staff members from the city, acting on a voluntary basis, have formed a Green Core Committee (GCC) to assist interested parties every step of the way and expedite the process, “because time is money,” said plans examiner Jozanne Moe.

To qualify for the Green Building Program, you must commit to meeting Built Green (4 or 5 star) or LEED for Homes (Silver/Gold/Platinum) standards, have contracts verified by a third party and complete all necessary checklists. Information packets are available at City Hall and the GCC is working to set up a Web site.

Koben Calhoun, Built Green program manager, explained that this 501c(3) non-profit organization is a program of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, to provide a framework for environmentally-friendly design and building practices. It also offers educational support and networking opportunities between architects, builders, designers, vendors of building products, lenders and realtors.

“We take a holistic view,” said Calhoun, looking at ways that people use or misuse energy or natural resources and how it impacts the community at large, as well as the health of individuals.

And although “some people feel inundated by green marketing,” there is growing acceptance of the movement, he stated. In the year 2000, only 36 homes were certified by Built Green, compared to more than 3,000 in 2006.

A 2005 survey indicated that 30 percent of people make purchases based on moral and ethical values such as concern for the environment. That same survey showed that more than 50 percent of contractors were exploring green building options even if they weren’t actively seeking certification.

As of last summer, green certified homes went on realtors’ MLS (multiple listing service) and many home buyers are specifically searching for properties that meet green criteria.

Tracking data from Sept. 1, 2007 through May 1, 2008, “we found that green sells more and sells faster,” said Calhoun. “Single-family green homes are on the market an average of nine days less than conventional homes.”

Owners of existing homes can certainly get in on the green movement by using reclaimed, recycled or rapidly renewable products when remodeling or building onto their houses. But starting with green strategies from the very beginning is cheaper and more efficient in the long run, Calhoun concluded.