New Initiatives for Safe, Affordable, Climate-Friendly Homes and Buildings

The 2023 legislative session presents a vital opportunity to make progress in achieving our climate goals and protect families and communities from ever-worsening climate impacts. OEC is excited to support a “Building Resilience” policy package this session that will cut pollution and increase the climate resilience of our homes and buildings

 

architect in hardhat working on wiring

Photo credit: Emmanuel Ikwuegbu

Recognizing the vital need to transform and expand Oregon’s building stock in a way that maximizes climate, public health, affordability, and job creation benefits for Oregon, the 2022 legislature established the “Resilient, Efficient Buildings (REBuilding) Task Force.” The REBuilding Task Force included 27 members representing labor, builders, public health, utilities, affordable housing, environmental justice, local government, and climate experts, who met regularly over nine months to discuss and consider building decarbonization policy options for the 2023 legislative session.

After 16 meetings, four surveys, and an extensive independent modeling process, the REBuilding Task Force voted to adopt a final report identifying specific policy priorities to support building decarbonization and maximize public health, affordability, and job creation benefits. The final report identified policies to advance building electrification–e.g. shifting away from fossil gas toward clean electricity for heating and cooking–and efficiency–e.g. reducing energy waste by improving how productively a building uses resources. These include measures that will help ensure new buildings are constructed smart from the start, and support upgrades through retrofits to existing buildings, with an emphasis on ensuring affordable access to resilient, healthy homes for all. 

Task Force members recommended that the 2023 legislature move forward with policies to:

1. Enhance the efficiency of the state’s largest existing buildings

Recognizing the vital role of policies that encourage energy efficiency in reducing energy waste, lowering energy bills, and cutting air and climate pollution, Task Force members recommended the legislature advance a Building Performance Standard (BPS) for existing buildings. BPS policies establish specific performance levels that buildings must achieve and can be designed to target improvements in a variety of building aspects—including energy use, water use, and emissions. Task Force members showed strong support for a BPS that reduces emissions by at least 40% by 2030, with an emphasis on existing commercial buildings, which are the largest source of climate pollution in the buildings sector.

2. Ensure new buildings are constructed as efficiently as possible.

 Approximately a third of buildings in Oregon that will exist in 2050 have yet to be built, and buildings constructed today may last for up to 100 years or more. That means every new building not built to standards that reflect our climate emergency will hamper our ability to reach our climate goals for decades to come. At the same time, our cities are growing rapidly and housing is in high demand across the state, which means that jobs constructing clean, efficient buildings will be a continuous need.

With this in mind, Task Force members included a recommendation for energy-efficient building codes for new construction. As outlined in the final report, building energy codes can require new construction and major renovations in existing buildings. These code updates can be targeted to reduce both embodied carbon–or the climate pollution associated with the manufacturing, transportation, installation, and disposal of building materials–and energy consumption–or the amount of energy used for electricity, space, and water heating–and will in turn save families and businesses money on utility bills. 

Many builders across Oregon are already building affordably “above code” to maximize efficiency and cost savings. These code improvements should focus on maximizing benefits for low-income communities, renters, rural communities, and communities of color.

3. Expand programs to support energy efficiency and the widespread adoption of electric heat pumps and heat pump water heaters.

Renters, homeowners, and businesses can save money on their utility bills when we reduce the energy wasted when powering buildings. One of the easiest ways to reduce energy waste and costs is through improvements to space heating and cooling and water heating. For example, electric heat pumps–which provide both cooling and heating–can be up to five times more efficient and save Oregonians up to $3,000 over the systems’ lifetime compared to their gas counterparts.

The task force identified policies that promote, incentivize, and/or subsidize energy efficiency and heating and cooling, specifically electric heat pumps. This could include expanding heat pump and water heater incentive programs and removing barriers for customers who wish to upgrade to electric appliances. These policies will also be critical to leveraging unprecedented federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes billions of dollars in incentives and rebates for households to install efficient, all-electric appliances.

4. Improve the efficiency and resilience of public buildings, specifically schools.

Finally, state and local governments have an important role to play in leading by example. This could include policies to improve the energy efficiency of and reduce emissions from state-owned and publicly-financed buildings, specifically public schools.

Next steps

The 2023 legislature has the chance to support these and other policies to help transform Oregon’s building stock in a way that will protect public health, improve energy affordability, and support local, family-wage jobs that can’t be exported.

Near-term legislative action on building decarbonization is also key to ensuring that Oregon is well-positioned to leverage unprecedented federal investments, including billions of dollars in rebates and incentives for building code updates, energy efficiency upgrades, weatherization, and beneficial electrification for new and existing buildings, as well as workforce development programs. 

 

Join OEC in supporting a Building Resilience policy package in the 2023 legislative session by making sure you’re signed up to receive our GAIN action alerts. We’ll share updates and opportunities to voice your support as these bills move through the legislative process. 

 

 

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Featured Climate Protection Policy Environmental Health Transportation Solutions OCAP News OCAP-Page Media/PR/Statements
Sort by

Broad coalition backs Governor and DEQ’s commitment to rapidly restore cornerstone Climate Protection Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 22, 2024 MEDIA CONTACT: Nora Apter, Oregon Environmental Council noraa@oeconline.org |
January 22, 2024, 11:22 am
mcadmin

0

Nora Apter, senior program director for climate at the Oregon Environmental Council speaking at the pro-CPP Rally in Salem on September, 29, 2023.

Voices of Support: Defending Oregon’s Climate Protection Program

On September 29, 2023, OEC gathered with a growing coalition of community-based organizations, lawmakers, and business groups following oral arguments heard by the Oregon Court of Appeals to rally behind the Oregon Climate Protection Program (CPP), which is under attack from the fossil fuel industry. OREGON’S CLIMATE PROTECTION PROGRAM Oregon’s Climate Protection Program (CPP) is a cornerstone in our st
October 23, 2023, 1:43 pm
mcadmin

0

Windmills over green terrain

Climate Win! Oregon Lawmakers Take Powerful Action Passing the ‘Climate Resilience Package’

Oregon’s 2023 Legislative Session ended with a momentous victory in the fight against climate change with the passage of the bipartisan Climate Resilience Package (HB 3409 & HB 3630). With over $90 million in funding and strategic leveraging of federal investments, this victory represents significant progress in our relentless pursuit of a climate-resilient future for Oregon.
June 29, 2023, 11:13 am
noraaoeconline-org

0

A farmworker carries berries in a field

The Right to Refuse Dangerous Work: Another Victory for Worker Safety in a Warming Climate

Oregon has taken resolute action in protecting workers from dangerous conditions caused by the worsening climate crisis. On June 7, 2023, Governor Tina Kotek signed into law Senate Bill 907, the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work. This law builds a past victory for worker safety achieved by the OEC and coalition partners in implementing permanent heat and smoke rules, fortifying our state’s commitment to shielding workers from the dangers of an increasingly volatile  cl
June 27, 2023, 2:32 pm
jamie-pang

0

Oregon Health Authority Report Finds Devastating Public Health Impacts from Climate Change in Oregon, Underscoring Urgent Need for Legislative Action to Pass the Climate Resilience Package

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 22, 2023 Media Contact Kat Driessen, kat@empirical.media PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority today released a comprehensive report on the public health impacts of climate change in Oregon. The “2021-2022 Climate and Health in Oregon Rep
June 22, 2023, 11:00 am
mcadmin

0

View over a pacific northwest valley with grass and trees in the background under blue sky

Natural Lands, Natural Climate Solutions

Oregon’s farms, forests, urban parks, wetlands, and other natural lands shape our state’s landscape and economy and are an essential source of life-sustaining resources. OEC is part of a coalition working to protect these lands from climate extremes and harness their potential as a climate solution.
February 15, 2023, 9:19 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

Governor Brown signing Climate Change Executive Order

Climate Champion: Governor Brown’s Legacy and the Path Ahead

A few years ago, the prospect of Oregon taking meaningful action on climate was dim. Republicans had just fled the capital to prevent the elected majority of state leaders from moving forward with a vote (a tactic now widely condemned by Oregon voters via Measure 113), effectively
February 14, 2023, 7:04 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

A farmworker carries berries in a field

Climate Protection Win for Oregon Workers

Industry plaintiffs brought two claims against rules to protect workers in Oregon from the harmful and dangerous impacts of exposure to heat and smoke. Both suits were dismissed “with prejudice” which means they were dismissed permanently and cannot be brought to Court again.   On December 20, 2022, the U.S. District Court in Medford dismissed
January 23, 2023, 8:03 pm
jamie-pang

0

Climate Victory! Oregon Clean Fuels Standard Now Strongest in the Nation

Oregon just took a huge step toward reducing climate and air pollution from our top emitting sector. The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) today adopted an expanded Clean Fuels Program, more than tripling our existing standard to make it the strongest in the nation. See our joint press release here.
September 23, 2022, 7:44 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

Coalition of State and National Groups Files Intervention to Defend Oregon’s Climate Protection Program Against Oil and Gas Industry Attack

For Immediate Release September 7, 2022 Salem, OR – A coalition of environmental justice, climate, and business organizations today filed a legal intervention
September 7, 2022, 9:01 pm
mcadmin

0


No Replies to "New Initiatives for Safe, Affordable, Climate-Friendly Homes and Buildings"