The Passive House standard should be made part of Oregon’s Reach Code

The performance-based building standard, which cost-effectively reduces building energy consumption by 70-90%, would set an ambitious yet achievable bar for all Oregon buildings to aspire to – the intent of the “Reach” Code.

We’ve written here extensively about the Passive House building standard and its potential for transforming our built environment into a more efficient and sustainable one.  The standard is time-tested and proven, with over 15,000 Passive House structures built in Europe and a groundswell of interest and expertise in the standard here in the US.  (Our own Sam Hagerman has become a leader in the Passive House movement, and was recently elected President of the new Passive House Alliance, dedicated to promulgating the standard across the country.)

We at Hammer & Hand believe, as do our Oregon Passive House colleagues, that the standard is perfectly suited to become part of the State of Oregon’s Reach Code.  The Reach Code was established specifically to push the envelope on energy efficient building technology and guide the evolution of the state building code toward, ultimately, a carbon-neutral future.  The Passive House Building Energy Standard, with its impressive energy reduction chops, fits the bill.

Currently, however, the only standard being officially considered for the Reach Code is a version of the US Green Building Council’s LEED standard called the International Green Construction Code, or IGCC for short.  The IGCC, like LEED has a lot going for it: it provides a good, broad framework for green construction.  Despite its merits, as recent news reports and even a class-action lawsuit suggest, LEED’s (and therefore IGCC’s) ability to effectively deliver significant energy reduction is under question.  Passive House is a perfect complement to LEED and IGCC.  The standard’s strength is that it isn’t broad.  Instead, it brings laser-light focus on the energy performance of our buildings and delivers huge performance gains in an affordable way.

That’s why the Passive House Building Energy Standard should be included in Oregon’s Reach Code, as a complement to the IGCC.

Please consider helping us by endorsing this concept. We’ll be working with folks in Salem in January to get Passive House included as an option in Reach.


P.S.  Thanks go to Sam Hagerman, Jeff Tufenkian, Graham Wright, Wes Drumheller, and Skyler Swinford for their advocacy and policy work on behalf of Passive House.

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