We have chosen to highlight Earth Advantage of Portland, Oregon for our first Zero Energy Advocate profile because of their leadership in bringing the Northwest building community onto the path to zero. For twelve years, Earth Advantage has been working to accelerate the adoption of green building into the mainstream building industry. The nonprofit organization works in four main areas: building certification, sustainability training, research, and policy and regional initiatives.
To date, Earth Advantage has green certified over 15,500 single family homes and over 7,000 multi-family units across Oregon and Southwest Washington. It began its zero energy home certification program in 2014, and has since certified 30 zero energy and zero energy ready homes. Professional training has been provided to over 8,000 real estate agents, builders, architects, and appraisers across the U.S. These training courses are available either online or in a classroom. Their research ranges from testing construction approaches to developing software to helping deliver green home data directly to the real estate market.
Earth Advantage’s broad technical expertise has been key in several important energy efficiency policy initiatives currently underway in Oregon:
- Home Energy Scores: Over the last eight years, Earth Advantage played a primary role in developing state and municipal home energy scoring policy. Their technical knowledge, based on years of national leadership on home energy scoring research and program implementation, resulted in the passing of House Bill 2801 in 2015 and the Portland Home Energy Score Ordinance in 2016. HB 2801 set qualifications for home energy assessors, and the City of Portland’s Home Energy Score Ordinance requires that an energy score be issued on each home listed for sale in the city. This new rule will provide homebuyers with helpful energy information on a home they are considering purchasing as part of the thousands of housing transactions in Portland each year. Earth Advantage will be providing training and quality assurance support to the city in implementing this new ordinance starting January 2018.
- State Energy Codes on the Path to Zero: The organization recently researched and developed an Energy Code Cost Analysis Study to measure the cost impact of potential energy code improvements in the state of Oregon. This led to providing technical assistance in support of House Bill 2710, which will, if passed, set a reasonable energy efficiency target for building codes to achieve by 2030.
In addition, Earth Advantage recognizes that a coordinated regional effort to advance zero energy buildings in the Northwest is a must. Many municipalities and some states in the Northwest have aggressive climate action plans that aim for significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and 2050. Yet a coordinated effort to move the market toward necessary zero energy construction practices is lacking. Earth Advantage has formed ZE x 2030, a collective impact group whose intent is to move the Northwest building industry to zero energy or zero energy ready practices by the year 2030. The group is made up of several green building and environmental organizations who are interested in advancing buildings as a strategy to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Northwest. The early work of the collective will be centered on strategic communications and targeting key barriers that remain in achieving that goal, beginning with the state of Oregon. The ultimate goal of this regional initiative will be to create robust market demand for zero energy and zero energy ready homes while supporting the lending, real estate, and builder/designer infrastructure to successfully meet that demand.
For more information on the work of Earth Advantage visit them online at earthadvantage.org