Under the leadership of Mayor Jacqueline Izzo, the City of Rome has been working steadily toward achievement of four High Impact Actions (HIA) that will allow the city to qualify for $100,000 in NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities funding. The city initially documented its success with Clean Fleets, Benchmarking and Unified Solar Permit. Chief Code Inspection Officer Mark Domenico then took an innovative approach when he agreed to tackle Energy Code Enforcement Training as a fourth HIA, working with T.Y. Lin, an independent contractor to NYSERDA. Two teams of local design professionals were at the time seeking city building permits for a convenience store and a commercial building retrofit, respectively. Domenico drew T.Y. Lin into the review process for the two projects as a way of providing hands-on code training for both his staff and the design teams.
Following site visits, T.Y. Lin, led by Scott Copp, audited the design documents for compliance with the newly updated state energy code, which went into effect in October, 2016. Deficiencies were noted and a follow-up meeting was held to review the findings.
“It provided a great learning experience for the design professionals,” said Domenico, who also is a registered architect. “And it was a great way to make the design community aware of T.Y. Lin’s services, which are free of charge.”
Domenico’s team experienced benefits as well.
“Code enforcement officers have a heavy burden in that they need to be knowledgeable about all aspects of the building trades,” Domenico said. “The design professional is responsible for applying the state regulations and creating documents but our challenge is to understand the plans, in a comprehensive way and issue building permits for construction . And the new energy code makes more measures mandatory than before.”
“Many design professionals have marginalized the submitted drawing materials and are producing plans based solely on what the owner is willing to pay for rather than submitting the complete information that is required to be shown as prescribed by state law,” Domenico said. “This makes the task of performing adequate energy code reviews very difficult and typically results in resubmissions and project delays, he noted. On an annual basis, code enforcement officers must submit to the New York Department of State confirmation of the plan review and construction of specific energy features that were included in buildings constructed the prior year.
Wider outreach to design professionals is needed, Domenico said. Regional chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the New York State Building Officers Council (NYSBOC) are well positioned to provide it.
Mayor Izzo commented, “I’d like to thank NYSERDA and Mohawk Valley Economic Development District (MVEDD) with their assistance to the City of Rome to help further our mission to reduce emissions and implement energy savings projects. “