Rehab issue stalls green ordinance

Evanston aldermen again postponed a vote Monday on a proposed green building ordinance, but it appeared a majority of aldermen now oppose provisions that would make the rules apply to rehab projects.

The ordinance as drafted would require certification by the U.S. Green Building Council that construction and renovation projects projects larger than 10,000 square feet meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver standard.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he wants to encourage reuse of existing buildings in town and doesn’t want to discourage renovations by adding the extra costs needed to bring the buildings up to LEED standards.

He moved to delete the rehab portion of the ordinance, and Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, seconded his motion, although the change did not come to a vote Monday night.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she also wanted to defend the interests of small builders who’ve worked on rehab projects through the city even as new construction has largely ground to a halt during the recession.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said owners of the three hotels in her ward are very concerned about the impact of the ordinance, because in their industry they often have to do rehabs every three to five years to be competitive and they fear the ordinance would add to their costs.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said the city’s Community Development Department hadn’t played a big enough role in drafting the compromise ordinance the was before the council.

And Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said everyone is for an ordinance, but she doesn’t think its provisions are right yet. She said she doesn’t see the need for requiring third-party certification of green building performance.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said he had talked to a lot of developers since the council’s last meeting and now agrees “that the ordinance isn’t quite there yet.”

Only Aldermen Jane Grover, 7th Ward, and Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, appeared ready to approve the ordinance as presented.

Burrus moved to hold the ordinance for two weeks and Rainey seconded the motion, effectively blocking action on the measure until the council’s next meeting.

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