Keeping Oregon Beautiful
The Third Oregon Climate Assessment Report, released in January of 2017 reasserted the threat of climate change for Oregonians. In the coming decades there will be an increased threat of drought, coastal and inner waterway flooding, and forest fires. In 2017 Oregon experienced the worst forest fire season in recorded history. Despite having a large supply of hydro power and a growing source of renewable power, nearly half of our energy consumption uses fossil fuel as a source. In order to retain the natural splendor of Oregon and the Northwest we must do more to reduce the impact of climate change.
Buildings are one of the most cost effective ways we can reduce energy consumption across the Northwest. A huge amount of energy consumption comes from our offices and homes and the technology is available today to make those buildings much more energy efficient. By using best practices and sophisticated energy modeling buildings can be designed to perform at what's called zero energy. Basically, they will produce as much energy in a year from renewable sources as they consume. On November 6, 2017, Governor Kate Brown signed an executive order that mandates code amendments that require newly constructed residential buildings to achieve at least equivalent performance levels with the US DOE Zero Energy Ready Standard by October 1, 2023.
The Governor's actions are significant step in the right direction that addresses the impact of buildings on Oregon's climate but we must push even further if we are to truly offset the potential impact of rising CO2 levels. In 2017 Earth Advantage helped form a new coalition of like-minded nonprofits to do just that. Our mission is to accelerate the adoption of better buildings, and the best buildings for Oregon are one's that use nearly zero energy.
An Oregon Focus
In June of 2017 we gathered a group of like-minded nonprofits to form a collective impact coalition focused on getting all buildings in Oregon on the path to zero energy ready by 2030. The Zero Energy Ready Oregon (ZERO) coalition's primary focus is to consult with major stakeholders across the state of Oregon in order to advance building codes toward a zero energy standard by 2030 for all new construction.
Zero Energy Ready Oregon Coalition
The most cost-effective and immediately available strategy for lowering greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the built environment is in the adoption of zero energy buildings. The Zero Energy Buildings Oregon coalition will work to create the conditions for every newly constructed or significantly renovated home or building in Oregon to be built to zero energy or zero energy ready standards.
The coalition agrees to an inclusive approach to participation in this initiative. As a coalition of organizations working with a wide array of constituents and stakeholders, we recognize the benefit of collaboration to create greater impact. We also recognize the benefit of working together with the numerous program certifications, policy champions, and energy service providers in Oregon who have an important role in Oregon’s climate action.
Minimum Threshold Zero Energy Ready Definition
There are many ways a home or building could be defined as being zero energy or zero energy ready. The Zero Energy Ready Oregon coalition sets a minimum performance threshold for what we accept as supporting the coalition’s objective to significantly lower Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions. This minimum threshold definition is: “A home or building in which energy efficiency is maximized, the capacity to meet the building’s energy needs with renewable energy sources has been enabled, and site and community based renewables are prioritized.” This fairly broad definition allows a variety of zero energy and zero energy ready program certification standards to co-exist and coalition ly participate in influencing Oregon’s construction industry.