COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado lawmakers passed a bill, as this year's session ended Wednesday, that critics believe will increase the cost of building homes and raise home prices for potential buyers.
House Bill 22-1362, Building Greenhouse Gas Emissions, was introduced a month ago and is intended to make new homes more energy efficient and environmentally friendly by adding more materials and regulations to the construction process.
However, the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department strongly opposes the bill, saying that it would increase the cost of buying a home from $8,000 to $12,000 — which would be more of a detriment to many people who already struggle to find available and affordable housing.
"When you’re talking about affordable housing, that is a huge increase and really makes things difficult for homebuilders who will pass those costs on to potential homebuyers," said PPRBD spokesman Greg Dingrando. "People are struggling enough to find or afford new housing as it is."
He also said that the bill will negatively affect his office.
"It could affect everything from building, to permits to inspections," he explained. "We'd have to hire more people and that affects our budget. There's a lot of pieces to this bill -- one which would require lawmakers to sign off on codes that haven't been written yet. We see that as very irresponsible to approve something that we don't know how it'll end up five or ten years down the road."
The bill passed in the Senate Monday and was passed by the House Wednesday.
The PPRBD made a presentation on the matter to El Paso County commissioners Tuesday, who voted to oppose the bill.
"It takes away local control to determine our own building standards and it brings us another unfunded mandate," said commissioner Stan VanderWerf. "The bill proposes, among many things, to adopt an international building code with a lot of provisions for emissions. But there's a lack of clarity about how that would be managed."
He also said that the bill will generally affect homes of around 2,500 square feet.
"This isn't the only bill being considered by the Legislature this session that will add to housing costs for builders and buyers, and combined that could increase costs by $30,000," he said.
However, the bill was amended from its initial version to make it more acceptable to critics, said Marla Novak, of the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs.
"The original bill has changed quite a bit since its introduction," she said. "The bill directs a 21-member board -- rather than the state energy office -- to determine building codes, and to have the board comprised of a diverse group from the building industry, and to provide funding for local governments and agencies to implement the new standards."
Novak wouldn't say whether the HBA is for or against the bill, but she said that the HBA worked with the PPRBD, the Chamber of Commerce and other groups on amendments that could reduce some opposition.
“Of course, energy efficiency is always something we are looking at and very aware of," she said. "Just the right amount at the right time, and a fair balance by looking at affordability. New homes are already energy efficient and any increased efficiency would be minimal."
The Pikes Peak Association of Realtors declined to comment on the matter Tuesday, preferring to wait until the bill's fate is decided.
Several dozen amendments were still being considered Tuesday as a final vote on the bill drew near.