LOC News

Task Force Produces Four Bills for Resilient Efficient Buildings

In the 2022 short session, the Legislature passed SB 1518 to create a joint task force on Resilient Efficient Buildings (REBuild). The aim of the task force was to identify and evaluate policies related to building codes and decarbonization for new and existing buildings to meet the states greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, while maximizing additional benefits like increasing energy efficiency, improving climate resilience, public health and air quality, and reducing the percentage of energy costs on households.

Mayor Lucy Vinis of Eugene was the LOC’s representative on the task force, and did a wonderful job representing the League and its member cities.

The task force completed its work last December, with the co-chairs  creating four bills; SB 868, SB 869, SB 870, and SB 871. Each bill is currently a placeholder, and the LOC has received markups for three of the bills and is awaiting the fourth. In addition, the LOC has been told that an informational hearing for all four bills will be next Tuesday, March 14 in the Senate Energy and Environment Committee. A public hearing is expected next Thursday, March 16 in the same committee. The bills are expected to move quickly. 

SB 868 – Healthy Heating and Cooling for All

SB 868 aligns energy efficiency programs with state climate goals, sets a heat pump target for the state, supports workforce development, and improves navigation of federal and state incentives for energy efficiency and retrofits of homes and businesses.

The LOC is not yet ready to take a position on SB 868, which does the following :

  • Aligns new and existing programs related to the resilience, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions of homes and buildings with state climate goals;
  • Aligns state incentives and other programs related to home upgrades and efficiency with new federal incentives, to maximize Oregon’s allocation and make best use of state funds;
  • Sets a state heat pump deployment target of 500,000 new heat pumps installed by 2030, with a priority for low-income and environmental justice communities throughout the state. This includes reports to the Legislature on progress, barriers, and market factors;
  • Improves navigation systems for Oregonians (building owners, renters, builders and developers) who may access incentives and programs, with the goal of streamlining processes and creating a One-Stop-Shop for Oregonians; and
  • Improves workforce and contractor training, education and awareness of incentives, programs, rebates and installation needs of heat pumps and other energy efficiency upgrades.

SB 869 – Build Smart from the Start

SB 869 would ensure new buildings in Oregon are constructed using energy efficient standards and are more resilient to climate impacts.  The LOC has many initial concerns with this concept and its potential impact to development, and will be waiting to see final language before determining a position.

SB 869 aims to:

  • Evaluate and report on Oregon's current progress toward achieving climate goals for new residential and commercial buildings, and on options for achieving that goal through the Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) advisory boards created by Executive Order 20-04;
  • Direct the BCD to continue this work, and to consider both energy efficiency and embodied carbon;
  • Align Oregon's building codes with the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, codify the energy efficiency targets within EO 20-04, and maintain alignment with national professional industry standards; and
  • Direct the BCD to study possible updates to ventilation and air filtration standards for indoor air quality.

SB 870 – Building Performance Standards

SB 870 aims to establish a Building Performance Standard for large commercial buildings to reduce their energy use and climate emissions over time.

Similar to SB 870, the LOC has a number of concerns with the initial markup we have seen. The bill is currently requiring energy performance standards for all existing large commercial buildings larger than 35,000 square feet, and will require them to meet energy performance standards over time. While modeled after Washington State, SB 870 as currently drafted changes the square footage for commercial buildings from 50,000 square feet to 35,000. This will include state and local government buildings that meet the size threshold, potentially creating an unfunded mandate for cities.

The LOC has been advised that some exemptions are coming for some industry sectors and schools but this may not include local government buildings.  The LOC will be keeping a close eye on this concept and continue to raise  concerns regarding possible impacts to development, cities, and their budgets.

Specifically, SB 870 will:

  • Enact a Building Performance Standard (BPS) to require large commercial buildings to meet energy and emissions reduction targets over time from a flexible menu of improvements. (This is modeled after Washington State BPS, which passed in 2019);
  • Provide long-term certainty, helping building owners plan for upgrades that improve their buildings and stimulate the local economy and create local, family-wage jobs across the state that can’t be outsourced;and
  • Provide financial incentives and technical assistance for building owners taking early action to meet these standards before they are required to be met.

SB 871 – Smart State Buildings

SB 871 seeks to remove barriers to accelerate energy retrofits and upgrades in state buildings.  The LOC has not yet taken a position on SB 871. At first glance, SB 871 seems to focus on the state and if so, the LOC will most likely not take a position or remain neutral. However, the LOC has not yet received a markup draft for this bill and cannot verify the details.

SB 871 aims to:

  • Accelerate the amount of energy efficiency retrofit dollars for public buildings, including having Oregon adopt similar statutes/rules to those in Washington state, with the aim to drive down climate pollution, improve energy efficiency, and provide resilient public spaces for all Oregonians;
  • Reduce barriers to third-party financing of public buildings to account for the energy savings of the whole building and throughout the life of energy efficiency upgrade components; and
  • Align the cost-effectiveness criteria under performance contracting with state statutes, rules, and efficiency and emissions goals.

The LOC will continue to monitor the progress for each of the above bills. With deadlines to post work sessions and move bills out of their first chambers fast approaching, it’s unclear what will happen with these bills.   Any action will move quickly, and the LOC will respond accordingly as needed.

 Contact: Nolan Pleše, Lobbyist – nplese@orcities.org


Last Updated 3/10/23

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