In a major win for the home building industry – and common sense – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will jettison plans for a National Post Construction Stormwater Rulemaking, plans that your Home Builders Association repeatedly told the agency would have added onerous, costly and in many cases impractical steps to the residential development process. “It’s been a five-year bureaucratic battle, but we won. That’s a victory for our buyers as well,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.
Since EPA first announced its plans in December 2009, HBA staff and members have submitted comments and letters, testified at hearings, served on small-business panels and met with appointed and elected officials to explain why EPA’s proposal was an incursion into land-use regulations and plain wouldn’t work. In essence, a rule would have required all builders to retain a certain volume of stormwater onsite by using low-impact development techniques such as rain gardens, pervious pavements and other methods that often add money especially on sites with soil types that don’t easily infiltrate.
Some of the technologies EPA was considering would be almost impossible in many urban areas, making smart-growth and redevelopment projects less likely to succeed. They are also expensive: Builders who employ these practices have estimated they add at least 10-15% to the cost of a developed lot, depending on location and soil type.
EPA was also considering expensive retrofit requirements that would saddle municipalities and taxpayers with huge additional bills during a time when many cannot keep up with current infrastructure demands. “Green infrastructure systems are still a work in progress, and as technology progresses, we’ll discover solutions that work better and are less expensive,” Kelly said. “I’m glad that EPA has decided to concentrate on education programs rather than proposing this rule, and I am proud of the role we played to make that happen.”
Your Home Builders Association is talking to EPA about assisting with its low-impact development education efforts, and such practices already are part of the voluntary ICC 700 National Green Building Standard.