Cities face unrelenting demands on policy priorities. Affordable housing, transportation, economic development, climate action, and other pressing issues compete for limited resources and funds. Now is a moment in time, however, when the opportunity to make significant progress toward carbon emission goals, to stimulate the local economy and to reduce the ongoing energy burden for owners and renters is attainable by many cities at very little cost or effort.
If there’s a defining theme for the building sector in 2019, it’s energy codes. Actions to update the rules that cities and states set to determine how effectively new residential and commercial buildings use energy are progressing on several fronts across the U.S. These regulations define the next generation of building design and construction in terms of energy performance and since those projects will be in operation for decades, performance matters a great deal—now more than ever. You see, 2018 culminated with a preponderance of evidence that climate change is real and the time for action is immediate. Natural disasters are wreaking havoc across the globe and new reports sound the alarm for governments to do more to limit temperature rise.
When Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Executive Order 17-20 in the fall of 2017, she set Oregon on the path to addressing climate change by ramping up efficiency in Oregon’s buildings. Addressing building efficiency is a critical climate action strategy as commercial and residential structures account for 40% of carbon globally. Her order calls for a number of specific actions including that Oregon should “establish an aggressive timeline to achieve net zero energy ready buildings as a standard practice in buildings across the state.” Zero energy (ZE) buildings are highly efficient and only consume as much energy as is produced through onsite renewables (usually solar panels) over the course of a year. Zero energy ready buildings have efficiencies on par with ZE projects, but don’t yet have sufficient onsite renewables.
In December 2017, the Ashland City Council unanimously adopted changes to update the City’s net metering resolution, including a new section which enables a Virtual Net Metering (VNM) policy. In the City of Ashland, VNM is a policy which enables energy produced at one electric meter, to be credited to another meter within the Ashland’s municipal electric utility. The policy expands opportunities for Ashland citizens to develop offsite solar generation (where their own residence may not have good solar access), and to co-develop larger community solar systems with others.
Last night was our 2018 ZERO coalition celebration on our rooftop deck! We heard about what the ZERO coalition has been up to over the past year from David Heslam, Earth Advantage (EA)'s Executive Director, Amy Cortese, the Director of Programs at New Buildings Institute (NBI) and Stacey Hobart, Director of Marketing at NBI. Dave Cady, an EA builder and graduate of EA's Sustainable Homes Program, spoke about building zero energy homes and also living in a zero energy home. Then, Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability's Green Building Policy Coordinator Vinh Mason spoke about the City of Portland's goals and how they align with ZERO's mission. Finally, we heard from Reilly Loveland, a Project Analyst at NBI and Webly Bowles, a Project Manager at NBI, as they introduced Sustainable Building Week, coming up in October. Check out some photos from the party! Thanks to everyone who came out!