A new cost analysis of potential energy code improvements from Earth Advantage ratchets up the pace towards zero energy construction, and their supporting documents are under review by HBA staff and members. At first read, we cannot help but be concerned with their potential impacts.
In the previous HBA advocacy newsletter, we published a summary of upcoming code update taking place at the state level by the State of Oregon’s Building Codes Division from OHBA’s Howard Asch. In that article he outlined the state building codes update process and that the Residential Specialty Code Committee (ORSC) is in the process of reviewing the next edition of the Oregon residential Specialty Code.
Earth Advantage, a Portland based non-profit promoting sustainable practices in the building industry, introduced a proposal containing energy-code recommendations and the cost analysis of those recommendations to ORSC during the public commentary period ending in September of last year. The proposal was recently brought before the ORSC for consideration. While it is unclear what impact the document will have on the code update process, the recommendations are concerning.
The HBA of Metropolitan Portland is currently reviewing these recommendations by Earth Advantage and requests that our members examine these recommendations as well to deliver feedback to both the Oregon Building Codes Division and to Earth Advantage.
The HBA does not have an official position on the recommendations at this time, but in an initial review of the document, there are portions that are concerning within their cost analysis and the impact on the cost of housing of their proposals. Within Earth Advantage’s recommendations, they support the “pathway for zero” for Oregon (buildings that produce as much energy as they consume) and that Oregon homes need a 65% decrease in energy use over the next 15 years to achieve that goal. Earth Advantage’s cost analysis looks at savings over the long term, with costs being recouped in some cases over 50 years. First, that is far longer than any one family or person is likely to stay in the same home. Additionally, the cost analysis has not been peer reviewed.
The HBA has long supported increasing the efficiency of all homes, but we also seek balance and are mindful of the impact to affordability. We are also concerned that the framework for compliance with these recommendations would need to be addressed in the state legislature, a practice we are opposed to in developing building codes.
The HBA has a positive working relationship with Earth Advantage over the years, and they have had many opportunities to speak with the home building industry about the new edition of codes and their energy efficiency goals for homes. The HBA will certainly be engaging Earth Advantage on their recommendations moving forward, and we hope to have our membership add their concerns to the dialogue. Please contact James Adkins at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to provide any insight regarding the recommendations.
Read Howard Asch’s code updates article here.