PARK TO SET '€˜GREEN' STANDARD
Published December 11, 2009
LEAGUE CITY — The city council has taken an initial step toward ensuring the Eastern Regional Park’s design meets internationally recognized energy efficiency and environmental standards.
Council members decided during Tuesday’s workshop to allocate $60,000 for additional engineering work and design fees for the recreation building as part of an effort for the park to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED certification.
Council members reviewed architectural elevations and floor plans for the future park, south of state Highway 96 between FM 270 and Dickinson Avenue, and still need to choose a design plan.
The U.S. Green Building Council developed the certification to provide a framework for ensuring buildings are constructed with energy and resource conservation in mind, according to the council’s Web site.
City council member Neil Baron had reservations about the city spending extra money for the certification during park discussions a year ago because officials did not know how Hurricane Ike and national economic woes would impact their budget.
The initial cost for achieving the certification would add about $1.1 million to the overall $15 million project, Baron said.
“I was uncertain if our sales tax revenue was going to take a hit because of Ike and the economy, but it didn’t happen,” he said. “We actually fared pretty well.”
Funding for the park comes from a voter-approved taxing entity that allocates a quarter-cent on the dollar of the city’s sales tax revenue for municipal park projects and amateur sporting facilities.
For the level of certification the city is aiming for, the park recreation building must be insulated and constructed from sustainable materials, have an energy efficient air-conditioning and heating unit and have a water and sewage recycling system.
Other features the park will have include efficient water landscaping, equipment that reduces potable water usage and plants that require less water, Baron said.
Officials estimated the project’s cost would be regained in eight to 11 years, he said.
“Promoting a clean and healthy environment is a goal for the city council,” Baron said. “We’re conscious of the environment and of conservation, and we want to set an example.”
Council member Tim Paulissen had concerns about the environmental upgrades because the numbers on how long it would take to recover money spent on achieving LEED certification were not definite.
Maintenance and operation of the park will be covered by the general fund, he said.
Any substantial amount of money saved in the long run as a result of the energy-efficient features would make the project worthwhile, he said. Estimates show the city’s energy costs will be reduced by 20 percent every 10 years, he said.
“I’m still not 100 percent sold on it because we’re basing our numbers on speculation,” Paulissen said. “If we can recoup our investment costs in eight to 10 years, and save energy costs, then it is worth it.”