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Portland City Council has approved a green building policy designed to reduce costs in affordable housing projects and provide equitable access to healthy, high performing buildings. The Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) worked with green building consultants to develop a streamlined policy that maintains LEED and Earth Advantage standards, but narrows requirements to the measures that provide the greatest benefit to affordable multifamily housing: energy, water, and indoor air quality.
“Focusing on a much smaller and more impactful set of requirements reduces documentation and administration costs,” said PHB Director Kurt Creager. “The targets we have for energy, water, and indoor air quality are very high, and puts the focus there, where it can make the greatest difference for residents.”
The policy will apply to the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing projects with 20 units or more that receive at least 10 percent of their funding from PHB, as well as PHB-owned buildings. The policy aims to improve tenant health, reduce operation and maintenance costs, and implement the City/County Climate Action Plan, with goals of reaching net zero energy consumption in affordable housing projects by 2050 and 50 percent water reduction by 2040.
Among other provisions, the new policy requires projects to either include a PV system and EV charging or install infrastructure to be PV and EV ready. It also calls for the use of a Life Cycle Cost Analysis tool developed by Earth Advantage for Oregon that uses building design data to more accurately and consistently measure and compare the construction and operation costs of various green building strategies, allowing design teams and PHB to make informed, data-driven decisions and investments. Over time, the most cost effective strategies will emerge and best practices can be developed that will inform future policy.
“This forward-thinking policy cuts red tape to help us build high-quality, environmentally friendly, cost-effective housing,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler.