Monday, March 21, 2011

Oregon Sets Building Efficiency Precedent

A committee known as the Oregon Reach Code Committee made a historic decision Wednesday to include the Passive House Building Energy Standard as an option within the voluntary state building code being developed for Oregon.

Although the Code process is still not complete, we expect it will be the first time in the US that a state has recognized the actual international Passive House Building Energy Standard—even as an option.

I have included the news release and the list of endorsers who helped us tremendously in this victory (immediately below).

Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved, especially to: Sam Hagerman, Skylar Swinford, & Zack Semke of Hammer and Hand, Stephen Aiguier and Dylan Lamar of Green Hammer, Wes Drumheller, Tad Everhart, and especially to Graham Wright who has patiently and diligently nursed this along for much of the last year.

--Jeffrey Tufenkian


Let Oregon Lead Committee

For immediate release: 
March 18, 2011                 

Zack Semke, zack at hammerandhand (dot) com
Jeffrey Tufenkian, jeffrey at compassprop (dot) com       


Oregon Sets Efficiency Precedent:
Passive House Building Energy Standard to be High Level Option Within State Reach Code
SALEM, Ore.—Wednesday (3/16), the Oregon Reach Code Committee unanimously adopted the Passive House Building Energy Standard as an option within the new Reach Code. The Committee, initiated by S.B. 79, is developing an optional, aspirational building code with a two-fold purpose: to incentivize high performance buildings, and to allow jurisdictions & builders to field test state-of-the-art construction methods. The Passive House Building Energy Standard, which cuts energy use by 70-90%, is the world’s most rigorous standard for energy efficiency. Although still relatively new to the U.S., it has been widely practiced and is being phased in as minimum building code in Europe.


“While still only an option within an option, we can all be proud that Oregon has taken this historic step to continue as a leader for the country by including the Passive House Building Energy Standard in the new Oregon Reach Code,” stated Sam Hagerman, President of Portland contractor Hammer and Hand and the national Passive House Alliance. “We applaud the Reach Code Committee for taking this important action towards addressing the climate challenge we face.”


“The Passive House Standard is not only cost effective related to standard construction, these buildings also have superior comfort, health, performance, and durability,” said Stephen Aiguier, President of Portland Design-Build Firm, Green Hammer. “This is a great indication that Oregon is starting to take the steps needed to solve climate change and reduce our dependence on foreign energy.”

The measure garnered strong support, having been endorsed by 14 nonprofit organizations, many individuals, and 29 businesses including Oregon CUB, Oregon Environmental Council, Climate Solutions, Rocky Mountain Institute, and VOIS Business Alliance. Jana Gastellum of Oregon Environmental Council testified in support of the adoption, and the Chair of the Oregon Global Warming Commission sent a letter of support aligning the Passive House Standard with their October 2010 Roadmap to 2020 report calling for greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 80%.


The Reach Committee voted the Passive House Building Energy Standard into a high level of the commercial building portion of the Reach Code (Section 301.1.1) and indicated they will likely do the same for the residential portion when they reach that section in an upcoming session.
# # #

Endorsers of Let Oregon Lead Campaign

Nonprofit organizations:

Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon

Climate Solutions

Ecobuilding Collaborative of Oregon

NW Ecobuilding Guild

NW Ecobuilding Guild Portland Chapter

NW Energy Coalition

Oregon Environmental Council

Passive House Alliance

Passive House Institute US

Passive House Northwest

Passive House Oregon
Proud Ground

Rocky Mountain Institute

VOIS Business Alliance


A Kitchen That Works

Alison Kwok Architect

Cityhouse Builders

Debar Architecture

DMS Architects

Drumheller Design Studios

Eagle Creek Natural Building
Eco Smart Building PC

Edmiston Design/Build

Ethan Beck Homes 

Green Hammer

Green PDX 

Hammer and Hand

JB Hammer Designs
Living Room Realtors

Meadows Group Realtors
Nathan Good Architects

PDX Living

Root Design Build

Sarah Davis Design Services
Small Planet Workshop
Studio-E Architecture 

Sustainable Solutions Unlimited

Swift Architecture 

Ted Nickell Design

Tom Bender Architect

Wright On Sustainability

Year Round Comfort


  1. This is great! Over on the E. Coast, MA recently did something similar in adopting the passive house software PHPP as an allowable tool to show code compliance under the MA 1-2 family statewide energy code. A similar proposal to allow use of PHPP for energy code compliance goes to public hearing in May for inclusion in both the MA Commercial energy code, and the MA 'stretch' energy code (our reach code).

  2. Hi Ian,
    Were you involved in the MA Stretch code effort? It's interesting that MA and OR also led the country in adopting the first bottle bills in the early 70's.
    Best, Jeffrey