Miami Herald (04/29/16) Flechas, Joey
A new Miami Beach, Fla., law mandates builders of structures bigger than 7,000 square feet must either satisfy certain green building standards or pay a fee equal to 5 percent of construction costs. The new statute represents a unique change in which the private sector is partly responsible for paying for long-term construction planning, in the face of rising sea levels and climate change. The law went into effect on April 1, and at a typical cost of about $250 for each square foot to build a new home in Miami-Dade, the 5-percent fee for a 7,000-square-foot house would be $87,500. To avoid paying a fee, builders must have all new construction larger than 7,000 square feet certified with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating or better. Upfront costs can be greater for commercial and residential buildings, which can have solar panels, wind turbines, and specialized air conditioning and rainwater-harvesting systems. However, proponents of the law cite many long-term benefits, including longer-lasting materials, less maintenance, and energy and water savings. The 5-percent fee was based on estimates of how much it typically costs builders to obtain a LEED certification. Miami Beach official Betsy Wheaton says the city wants to collect a fund for sustainability projects, which would be fed money paid by developers who opt for fees instead of building green-certified buildings.