Friday, May 23, 2008

Seeing red over green editorial

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I am seeing red over the May 2 editorial, ‘‘Seeing red over legislating green.” I think the Montgomery County Council should be applauded for taking action on global warming. I believe that action should be taken at every level of government.

In addition to having an impact on global warming, requiring new homes to meet Energy Star certification provides protection to consumers.

I recently moved from northern New Jersey, where I was a real estate broker for 15 years. The average new homebuyer assumes that if a home is new it is energy efficient. This is a contributing factor to the high number of foreclosures, as many people don’t take energy costs into account when they plan their home purchase.

I lived in a town that was being redeveloped. My neighbor’s new home had the same level of insulation as my home, which was built in 1886. (No additional insulation had been added.) My neighbor’s energy bills were so high and the house almost impossible to keep warm. They sleep in the finished basement most of the winter because it is the only part of the house that they can afford to keep warm. New homes in my previous neighborhood sell for more than a million dollars.

The editorial said that the federal government prefers that its Energy Star standards not be chiseled into law. Given this administration’s record on global warming and the environment, why would that opinion even be considered?

Finally, the editorial reports that the federal government estimates that the Energy Star rating saves an average of $400 a year but it fails to report the average square footage that this number applies to. With the price for single-family new homes in Montgomery County generally exceeding $1 million, I seriously doubt that the square footage of the homes is average.

Diane Neale-Lorello, Rockville

The primary argument in the May 2 editorial is that the environmentally friendly regulations passed by the Montgomery County Council are unnecessary since the reforms called for ‘‘are already well along in the pipeline of the marketplace.”

Perhaps. But there are many of us out here who are skeptical of the marketplace’s ability to bring about timely environmental changes. The marketplace after all gave us the Hummer when many were predicting the current energy crisis. Also, many wealthy folks in our area are well insulated against the forces of the marketplace. Witness the continued survival of SUVs and newly built homes that could billet armies should the need arise.

Most of us would like to feel everyone in our community has their shoulder to the wheel in fighting global warming and our energy shortage and not just those pressed by the grind of the marketplace.

A secondary argument is that the new regulations are expensive. This argument is nullified by the above argument. According to the editorial, ‘‘Homebuilders estimate the Energy Star mandate will add anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 to the price of a typical house.” But the same editorial maintains that these expenses will soon be brought to us by the marketplace. Only ideologues would see red over such a difference.

John Mathwin, Rockville