New Coalition Formed to Advance Zero Energy Buildings in Oregon
November 6, 2017

Portland, OR: A group of Oregon-based organizations are announcing the formation of a coalition to advance the rapid adoption of zero energy building standards in the state of Oregon. A zero energy home or commercial building generates as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year through renewable resources. The founding members of the Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition are Earth Advantage, Climate Solutions, New Buildings Institute, NW Energy Coalition, International Living Future Institute, and the Zero Energy Project.

The formation of the Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition coincides with today’s announcement by Governor Kate Brown of an executive order focused on accelerating energy efficiency in new homes and commercial buildings, along with other carbon reduction strategies.

For newly constructed homes, the executive order stipulates that by 2024 state energy codes will require energy performance that is equivalent to US Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready standards. “It’s great to see Governor Brown take leadership and put Oregon building codes on a path to achieving greater energy efficiency,” said David Heslam, Executive Director of Earth Advantage. For commercial buildings, the executive order stipulates accelerating energy efficiency standards and requires that new state owned buildings must be designed to  operate as carbon-neutral buildings starting in 2022. “State leadership by example and advancing codes like these are important first steps to put Oregon’s energy codes on a better track to help meet Oregon’s carbon goals,” said Ralph DiNola, CEO of New Buildings Institute.

The Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition provided technical and policy advice and consultation  the governor’s office on the executive order and celebrates this announcement as a great first step toward achieving Oregon’s climate action plan in the built environment.

Buildings account for nearly 40% of all energy use and 75% of all electricity consumption in Oregon. Greatly improving the energy efficiency of new buildings would cut energy bills dramatically, improve indoor air quality and ensure comfortable home and workplace temperatures. Energy Efficiency is also one of the most cost effective ways to reduce carbon pollution and take action on climate change while stoking a new clean energy market that creates jobs and improves livability for residents.

David Van’t Hof, Acting Oregon Director, Climate Solutions: “The cleanest energy is the energy we don’t use. Energy efficiency is the silent hero in fighting global warming, so measures that save Oregonians in energy costs and reduce climate pollution is smart climate leadership. Governor Brown's Executive Order on Energy Efficiency will help make all new buildings highly efficient from the start. Today’s action, on the first day of the international climate talks, demonstrates the importance of local leadership and positions our legislature to take the next critical step in 2018: passing Oregon’s Clean Energy Jobs bill.”

Wendy Gerlitz, Northwest Energy Coalition: “Achieving greater energy efficiency lessens our need for electricity and accelerates the pace at which we can replace polluting fossil fuels with clean, renewable resources. Energy efficiency policies aren’t optional—they are required if we are going to take action on climate change. Governor’s Brown executive order and the Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition will make immense contributions toward helping Oregon address climate change through energy efficiency.”

The Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition is committed to maximizing energy efficiency in all new construction in Oregon by 2030 through the implementation of zero energy building standards. In the coming months the Oregon Zero Energy Buildings Coalition will be providing technical and research support to state, local and school district officials, as well as to private-sector developers, designers and builders, to support the implementation of the standards established in Governor Brown’s executive order.

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Author Bio

Mara Gross

Former Oregon Communications Manager, Climate Solutions

Mara is an attorney and policy advocate with wide ranging experience on social and environmental policies, and a former Oregon Communications Manager with Climate Solutons. As a member of the communications team, she worked on messaging and media outreach to build momentum for ambitious climate leadership in Oregon. 

For eight years prior to joining Climate Solutions, Mara was the Policy Director and then Executive Director at the Coalition for a Livable Future, a nonprofit focused on equitable planning in the Portland metro region. She previously served as the legislative aide to then-Oregon Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown (now governor of Oregon).  Mara also worked on several electoral campaigns in Oregon and California, provided legal aid on employment and housing issues, and practiced law in the private sector.  She has a J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law and a B.A. in philosophy from Wellesley College.

Outside of work, Mara travels around town mostly by bike and explores Oregon’s beauty and Portland’s amazing neighborhoods with her partner and young daughter, who wants everyone to stop driving "smoke cars." 

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