The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Eric Besson reported in detail last week on opposition to a proposed Little Rock ordinance to allow city inspectors to enforce energy efficiency standards for new homes. The outlook is bleaker still, based on the City Board agenda distributed yesterday.
Realtors, probably the most powerful city government lobby, have led the resistance and Mayor Mark Stodola — who’s depicted himself as a supporter of greater energy efficiency — has declined to endorse the proposal. Realtors, though not officially opposed as an organization at last word, have raised the usual concerns about added cost in complying with standards (an estimated $800 to $2,000 per home) and the time it would take. The contrary theory is that the savings in utility expenses over time far exceed the cost of making homes more efficient when built.
The recommendation came from the Mayor’s Sustainability Commission, the nine-year-old agency Stodola has vowed would step in and achieve what was lost by Donald Trump’s decision to end U.S. support for the Paris climate accord.
International standards recommend the tests proposed in the city ordinance to gauge the tightness of homes — air leaks around doors and from ductwork. The state declined to adopt these tests as state rules, but the city of Fayetteville has done so for its city inspections and others may also do so voluntarily.
The Little Rock ordinance has been deferred three times, the last until the July 5 meeting. But the schedule for Tuesday’s agenda session, which sets items for consideration for the July 5 meeting says, without elaboration, that the ordinance is now scheduled for “withdrawal.” I have a question in to City Manager Bruce Moore on whether this means the ordinance is dead. Realtor resistance all but guaranteed that at the outset, just as they’ve successfully resisted impact fees in new home construction that better reflect the revenue demands created for city services by new construction.
UPDATE: Response from Bruce Moore to my question:
“I’m going to meet with the new Planning Director next week to discuss.”