Stricter energy codes could be coming to new Columbia buildings

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COLUMBIA - A change in energy efficiency standards or codes could mean extra money for future Columbia businesses. 

The Environment and Energy Commission discussed and voted on a letter to pass on to city council discussing a new potential energy code for Columbia buildings.

The new code would make it so new buildings are more energy efficient, in part by being better insulated.

Since less heat and air would be escaping these buildings, commission member Lawrence Lile thinks the code will help Columbia businesses. 

"Business owners will be spending less money on utilities and more money on the business and keep that money in town," Lile said. 

Lile said he has heard from other council commissions saying that the city should water down these energy codes since it would make it more expensive to build new buildings. 

However, Lile said since utilities would be cheaper, people would end up paying less overall. 

He also said he's noticed weaknesses in building insulation with some of the student housing complexes that were built quickly. 

"It's easy to see because we hear stories of people paying 300 to 400 dollars a month to heat a tiny apartment," Lile said. 

Since building codes are set the day a building is finished, this new code will only affect new structures. 

"So the energy cost and use of that building is set the day the last nail is hammered for the life of that building" Lile said. 

The proposal will come up at a city council meeting as early as August.

The council will then vote on whether or not to change the building code.