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New Coalition Formed to Advance Zero-Energy Buildings in Oregon

Nov. 8, 2017
The Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition is committed to maximizing energy efficiency in all new construction in Oregon by 2030.

A group of Oregon-based organizations is forming a coalition to advance the rapid adoption of zero-energy building standards in the state of Oregon. A zero-energy home or commercial building generates as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year through renewable resources. The founding members of the Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition are Earth Advantage, Climate Solutions, New Buildings Institute, NW Energy CoalitionInternational Living Future Institute and the Zero Energy Project.

The formation of the Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition coincides with the Nov. 6 announcement by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown of an executive order focused on accelerating energy efficiency in new homes and commercial buildings, along with other carbon reduction strategies. For newly constructed homes, the executive order stipulates that, by 2024, state energy codes will require energy performance that is equivalent to U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready standards.

“It’s great to see Gov. Brown take leadership and put Oregon building codes on a path to achieving greater energy efficiency,” said David Heslam, executive director of Earth Advantage.

For commercial buildings, the executive order stipulates accelerating energy efficiency standards and requires that new state-owned buildings must be designed to operate as carbon-neutral buildings starting in 2022.

"State leadership by example and advancing codes like these are important first steps to put Oregon's energy codes on a better track to help meet Oregon’s carbon goals,” said Ralph DiNola, CEO of New Buildings Institute.

The Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition provided technical and policy advice and consultation to the governor's office on the executive order and notes that it is a great first step toward achieving Oregon’s climate action plan in the built environment.

Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of all energy use and 75 percent of all electricity consumption in Oregon. Significantly improving the energy efficiency of new buildings would cut energy bills dramatically, improve indoor air quality and ensure comfortable home and workplace temperatures. Energy efficiency also is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon pollution and take action on climate change while stoking a new clean energy market that creates jobs and improves livability for residents.

“The cleanest energy is the energy we don’t use,” said David Van’t Hof, acting Oregon director, Climate Solutions. “Energy efficiency is the silent hero in fighting global warming, so measures that save Oregonians in energy costs and reduce climate pollution is smart climate leadership. Gov. Brown's Executive Order on Energy Efficiency will help make all new buildings highly efficient from the start. Today’s action, on the first day of the international climate talks, demonstrates the importance of local leadership and positions our legislature to take the next critical step in 2018: passing Oregon’s Clean Energy Jobs bill.”

Wendy Gerlitz of the NW Energy Coalition added: “Achieving greater energy efficiency lessens our need for electricity and accelerates the pace at which we can replace polluting fossil fuels with clean, renewable resources. Energy efficiency policies aren’t optional — they are required if we are going to take action on climate change. Gov. Brown’s executive order and the Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition will make immense contributions toward helping Oregon address climate change through energy efficiency.”

The Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition is committed to maximizing energy efficiency in all new construction in Oregon by 2030 through the implementation of zero-energy building standards. In the coming months, the Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition will be providing technical and research support to state, local and school district officials, as well as to private-sector developers, designers and builders, to support the implementation of the standards established in the executive order.