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Two years ago today: One of biggest climate wins in Oregon history
Today is a significant milestone for Oregon’s climate progress, but it requires a little time traveling to the cusp of the pre-COVID times to fully appreciate how far we’ve come.
Clean buildings

Heating and powering our homes and businesses generates a substantial amount of our climate-changing pollution; our built environment is a major contributor to global warming.  If our homes and buildings were carbon-free and energy efficient, we would significantly reduce our climate pollution, drastically cut energy costs for owners and renters, and improve air quality where we live and work. 

For example, in Washington State, emissions from buildings are growing at a faster rate than any other source of carbon pollution, with this increase largely attributable to the use of fossil gas in homes and buildings. Combusting fossil gas in homes and buildings is not only a significant contributor to climate change, but also poses significant health risks for our communities, children, and other vulnerable populations.

Indoor air quality issues are particularly concentrated for low-income residents in smaller units with poor ventilation. Communities of color are already disproportionately impacted by outdoor air pollution, and should not continue to be disproportionately harmed by poor indoor air quality as well. Gas appliances also worsen our outdoor air quality.  For example, California’s residential appliances releasing more than two times as many NOx emissions as all of their gas power plants combined, and commercial gas appliances releasing just as much NOx pollution as all of California’s cars.

Many cities in the region and around the country are increasingly looking at ensuring all new buildings are electric as a key cost-effective pathway for achieving their local or state greenhouse emissions goals. Electrifying buildings is critical to addressing climate change, but it is also achievable, affordable, safe, and creates a more resilient energy system.

We are working with partners to move toward electrifying our buildings for heating, cooling and cooking.  We can also construct homes and buildings that get all their energy from sustainable sources, and even produce as much energy as they use — net zero energy buildings. 

Photo of downtown Salem, Oregon at night

How we build has major climate impacts

Numerous Oregon cities from Bend to Beaverton want to require stronger energy efficiency building standards, but Oregon’s existing state policies are holding them back.

row of homes with red text overlay "healthy and safe buildings"

Shoreline Wins on Clean Buildings

Shoreline, Washington became the second city in the Pacific Northwest to pass policy on clean buildings.

Yard sign that reads "We are going all electric"

Oregon’s “Future of Gas” Process: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

Oregon PUC regulators are tasked with figuring out how to protect customers and reduce risk, while gas utilities grapple with how to meet climate pollution reduction goals while continuing to meet customers’ needs.

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Good climate moves from Eugene's city council

The Eugene, OR city council voted to start studying whether to require all new-constructed commercial and residential buildings be electric only.

Climate Cast banner with photo of fire truck submerged in floodwaters

The good, the bad, and the necessary next steps

Harrowing floods in the PNW, a wrap-up of the COP26 conference, and some federal progress on climate.

Oil rig in front of sunset

130k reasons to stop

A massive oil spill in California, America readying for EV growth, big moves on gas use in buildings, Bad Apples in the Beltway, and a spotlight on Facebook’s climate denial.

collage of Mount Hood, a girl cleaning an electric induction stove, and solar panel installers

Turns out it’s a bad idea to burn fossil fuels inside our buildings too

As heat rises, fossil fuel pollution from Oregon’s buildings looms large.

Phasing out gas: Shoreline takes steps towards clean buildings

Shoreline is gearing up to make sure all new large buildings are powered by clean energy, not fossil fuels. If you're a local resident, let the city know they're on the right track!

city skyline with text overlay "clean and safe buildings"

Clean Buildings: Help King County keep leading on climate

We’re used to thinking of transportation as the big source of greenhouse gas emissions. But while they don't move, buildings still emit carbon and air pollution.

Photo of sunrise over Steens Mountain - Little Blitzen Gorge, 2016

So… What just happened in Salem?

Oregon’s 2021 legislative session has come to a close. We’ve made some major progress on statewide climate action, but before we dive into those details, let’s talk about how we got here.

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What if all this was pollution-free?

Cracking the code to clean and safe buildings

The past year has been exciting for climate action on clean and safe buildings in Washington. 2022 also presents a unique opportunity to have these benefits apply across the entire state instead of individual jurisdictions: the State Building Code Council can require clean, electric space and water heating for all commercial buildings statewide.
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Washington in forward motion on clean buildings

There’s still quite a few leading clean buildings policies moving, including a focus on increasing access and customer choice to switch to electric appliances and decrease energy use in more  commercial buildings across the state. We’ve noted below key policies we’re tracking and where we expect them to land before House of Origin cutoff on February 15th.  
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