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Libraries in nearby Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs also suffered damage from broken water pipes, as did dozens and dozens of homes.

One firm, Grand Lake Plumbing, alone fielded 80 to 90 calls, many to older and unattended homes. Many were from second homes.

The company encourages absent home owners to install freeze alarms, which remotely can warn their distant owners if temperatures drop too low, putting water systems at risk. The average repair bill, at least in the Grand Lake area, runs $6,000 to $8,000.

 

Efficient easier to sell than green

KETCHUM, Idaho - Ketchum and Blaine County are considering whether to elevate the requirements for buildings to ensure they use less energy and other resources.

Such regulations have tended to be controversial, because they usually raise building costs. But improved building techniques and designs lower utility costs.

Checking in at a few places with prior experience in such matters, the Idaho Mountain Express reports no clear consensus. One of the problems seems to be the word "green." Many contractors hear that and want nothing to do with it. And in Clark County, Wash., located north of Portland, that protest was enough to quash a mandatory code.

Aspen had the same problem, the chief building official there said, and so replaced "green" with "efficiency."

"How could they be against efficient buildings," asked Stephen Kanipe, the building official.

In Colorado, a building official in Longmont said elevated building requirements really shouldn't be controversial. "It's pretty easy stuff that should be done anyway, such as no leaks in ducts and no gaps in insulation," said Chris Allison.

Ketchum's Green Building Team leans toward recommendation that the city adopt the National Green Building Standard, which requires improved insulation and other building techniques, but does not require renewable energy, such as solar collectors.

"The goal is to take Ketchum from behind the curve to slightly ahead of the curve, but not so much ahead that we quash construction," he said.

 

Even in Aspen, recovery is cautious

ASPEN, Colo. - Mirroring reports from other mountain valleys and, indeed, much of the United States, The Aspen Times reports signs of an improved economy. But one architect said he refuses to string together "cautious" and "optimism" into the same sequence.

"We're cautious as hell," said John Cottle, a partner in Cottle Carr Yaw Architects, a firm with roots 40 years deep in the Roaring Fork Valley, where Aspen is located. "It's still a very sober environment out there."

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