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Breckenridge to update building code in accordance with climate action plan goals

By Summit Daily Staff Writer Taylor Sienkiewicz

BRECKENRIDGE — At Breckenridge Town Council’s Tuesday, Nov. 12, meeting, members were presented with a proposal to update the building code.

The town typically adopts updated building codes every six years. Currently, Breckenridge uses the 2012 International Code series, which is why Eli Johnston, chief building official for the town, proposed adopting the 2018 International Code series this year. 

Johnston explained that the major difference between the current code and the 2018 code is that exceptions that were in place for the energy code would be eliminated.

Johnston said his team is looking for the town to adopt the 2018 code as written.

Council member Jeffrey Bergeron asked whether the updated code complies with the Climate Action Plan. Johnston confirmed that an update to the code puts the town on the right track. He added that the update can be a first step and that council can go beyond the code with stricter building rules. 

Johnston said builders expressed concerns the code would mean higher prices for more air-tight windows and exterior insulation. 

“Through the performance path, there are ways to get around these things if you’re willing to do some other stuff in the house to increase efficiency,” Johnston said. “Window manufacturers are getting better and better. I don’t think it will be long before the window manufacturers catch up.”

Council member Wendy Wolfe questioned the impact of rising global temperatures on well-insulated buildings.

“With climate change upon us and our temperatures rising, as we make our buildings tighter and tighter … are we going to need air conditioning?” Wolfe asked.

Johnston said increased home and building insulation will require heating systems to work less rather than trapping more heat in the summer. 

“In this climate zone, I don’t think tightening up the houses is going to push for air conditioning,” Johnston said.

The proposal will be brought back for further discussion and potential action in the next work session.

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Silverthorne Town Council also voted to update the town building code to the 2018 International Code series. Frisco and Dillon councils also have moved the code updates forward in their respective towns.

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