Oregon 10-year Draft Energy Action Plan
Last month, Earth Advantage Institute had the opportunity to share comments on Oregon’s 10-year Draft Energy Action Plan, which contained several forward thinking, aspirational, and innovative approaches to energy constraints and opportunities.
Importantly, Oregon’s 10-year Draft Energy Action Plan included a recommendation for supporting the creation of residential and commercial energy ‘scoring’ programs. The inclusion of the energy scores as a prioritized policy recommendation is a good sign of things to come for Oregon (and elsewhere). Nonetheless, it’s also clear from the experiences of many states and localities that moving from policy recommendation to effective and widespread implementation can be challenging. There are many examples of states and localities around the country losing traction on energy scoring policy opportunities, often because they haven’t laid a firm foundation for policy adoption.
To help ensure that policy momentum is maintained in Oregon and results in effective market implementation, Earth Advantage Institute has recommended that Oregon engage in a regional collaboration with neighboring states to ensure that uniform rules and a common infrastructure are created around energy scoring. A regional approach would ensure that when policy is ultimately enacted on a local or state level in the Northwest, market actors and consumers will encounter consistent and meaningful scoring methodologies, quality assurance requirements, program terminologies, and data sources.
Achieving state and local greenhouse gas reduction goals will require a robust system of measurement and management. At the same time, many are advocating for higher standards for buildings, including establishing net-zero thresholds. While this has merit, a performance metric that measures all buildings irrespective of their “certification” is critical in creating much more effective measurement capabilities. Like many states, a significant amount of Oregon’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the residential and commercial building sector. A focused effort to measure and effectively manage this GHG profile is essential in assisting states in attaining reduction goals.
Meeting our future energy needs through significant increases in energy efficiency and the creation of energy scores for homes and buildings will provide benefit to consumers in lower energy costs, greater market transparency, and energy security. For policymakers and regulators, the issuance of energy scores for homes and buildings will allow for better measurement and management of the significant carbon emission profile associated with the built environment.