BuiltGreen group grows a checklist

PORT ANGELES — A group of contractors, environmentalists, real estate dealers, building officials and just plain citizens celebrated the release of a BuiltGreen of Clallam County checklist Tuesday night.

With so many people participating, they might have made a mess out of a code for “sustainable” — read environmentally friendly — construction.

What they’ve produced in 11 months of writing and editing, however, is a slate of about 200 items, each of which carries a number of points.

If a contractor scores enough points, the structure can be certified as BuiltGreen, a trademarked label that means it incorporates energy-saving, environmentally wise and non-polluting technology.

The items begin when a lot is being cleared. They cover construction all the way through landscaping the site.

The remarkable thing, said three-dozen of its authors who gathered in the Naval Elks Lodge for snacks and drinks, was the breadth of the committee that tackled the task.

“It covers everybody,” said Kevin Russell, BuiltGreen chairman. “We’ve got people from all walks of life.”

A code just for Clallam

The participants wanted to draw up a local code before some level of government did it for them — and officials of Clallam County and the city of Port Angeles wanted the committee to do so too.

“We had an opportunity to do it before it became a regulation or a law or something passed down from Olympia or Washington, D.C.,” said Russell.

That’s what kept together people as divergent as an engineer from the Public Utility District and a staff member of the Puget Sound Action Team.

“We had passionate people who were over here, and not-so-passionate people who were over there,” Russell said.

Russell, a Port Angeles builder, already has started constructing four homes on Rook Drive in Port Angeles that will wear BuiltGreen labels when they’re finished.

One of them, he said, has been sold sight unseen to a man who told Russell, “I see the value, and I want to have that house.”

The BuiltGreen of Clallam County committee was the child of the North Peninsula Builders Association.

Students will build green

The association, in turn, will teach the principles to its Future Builders group of students at the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center. The students learn on the job building a house from start to finish each year.

Susan Chadd, BuiltGreen committee coordinator, reiterated Russell’s observation that the group had room for people of all environmental beliefs who cooperated because they wanted to draft Clallam County’s code, not pay a consultant to do it.

The next step, she said, may be harder: educating contractors and home buyers of the advantages of sustainable building. To that end, the group has a small educational grant from the Puget Sound Action Team.

“People have to see it to believe it,” she said of the green approach to building.

“Our work is just starting. Now we’ve got to go out and build some public awareness.”

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