Keeping costs down has been a mission for me not only as a businessman but as a Flagstaff City Councilman. The cost of living in Flagstaff is an issue many struggle with. Flagstaff continues to be an expensive place to live and will probably always be more expensive than many places in the state due to land scarcity and other market forces. Making homes more expensive through costly regulations is the last thing Flagstaff residents need right now.
On Tuesday, June 4th at 6PM, the Flagstaff City Council will be voting on the adoption of the 2012 International Energy Code. The adoption of this code will raise the cost to build a new home in Flagstaff significantly. I’ve seen estimates ranging from $3,000 – $10,000 per new home if the 2012 code is adopted. Proponents of adopting this code have argued that homeowners will make this money back through increased energy efficiencies over a period of time. I’ve heard estimates that a homeowner may need from anywhere from 6 to 10 years to recoup these upfront costs. And that assumes homeowners stay in their home for that long. For homeowners that do not stay in their home for this amount of time, which many do not, they may never recover these added expenses.
I am all for energy efficient homes. The 2006 code, which we currently use, was a huge step in increasing the efficiency of homes. Adopting the 2012 Code would be another increase in efficiency but we must balance this with the economic realities of high housing costs that many homeowners and renters already face.
Instead of adopting the 2012 Energy Code, wouldn’t the continued use of the 2006 Energy Code be a more reasonable compromise? Perhaps this would be a fair balance between energy efficiency and the fixed cost of building new housing. Housing is already expensive enough in Flagstaff and our homes have become quite energy efficient. Raising the cost of housing more than it already is, is the last thing many of Flagstaff’s residents need to deal with right now.