Get involved with Bend’s climate future

The City of Bend is actively recruiting nine positions for the Environment and Climate Committee (ECC) until July 31, 2020.

During the June 17th, 2020 City Council meeting, Bend City Council voted to establish the Environment and Climate Committee. The committee’s primary focus is to provide input and recommendations to the City Council on topics related to environmental stewardship and to oversee implementation of the Community Climate Action Plan, adopted in December 2019.

This committee is a big deal! The ECC will help the City of Bend establish direction and implement sustainability goals and will help shape the future livability of our community. 

Committee expertise

The City is seeking individuals who have experience or expertise, professional or lived, in the following or other related subject matters: energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy efficient building, environmental justice, equity in environmental stewardship and sustainability, alternative transportation and mobility, energy policy, environmental policy, forestry, water resources, ecology, other life sciences, carbon emission reduction, and other related areas. They seek inclusive membership of diverse and varied perspectives and experiences.

This committee will help fulfill current and future Council goals and projects related to environmental stewardship, and provide a resource to Council when relevant community issues arise. The ECC will:

  • Develop recommendations and build partnerships to advance implementation of the Community Climate Action Plan;
  • Provide input in the City’s review and development of plans, ordinances, actions, and policies as relevant
  • Provide advisory input to the City Council during Council goal setting and budgeting processes; and
  • Provide input on adopted Council goals as they relate to natural resources and the environment.

Commitment

This will be a permanent City committee just like the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board (BEDAB) or the Affordable Housing Committee, among others. Nine members will be appointed to the Environment and Climate Committee with initial terms being two or four years so that the committee doesn’t replace all of its members at once. Subsequent terms will be four years. 

Committee members will be expected to actively participate in monthly meetings, generally 1.5 – 2 hours. Committee members will determine the regular schedule that works best for the members.

Application

The Advisory Committee application is available at bendoregon.gov/committees. Applications are accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, July 31, 2020. 

For questions on serving on the Environment and Climate Committee, please contact Cassie Lacy at 541-323-8587 or .  

Information about the committee is available at bendoregon.gov/sustainability.

Welcome to your new energy efficient home

Tips for buying an energy efficient home

The home buying process is, well, a process.   It’s important to have conversations about efficiency during the homebuying process and not just after so that you can find an energy efficient home–or at least on that can be upgraded for efficiency. These simple tips can save a lot of energy further down the road.

Work with an Earth Advantage Broker or GREEN designee

Earth Advantage is a nonprofit organization based here in the NW that works to accelerate the adoption of sustainable homes. EA Brokers are green designated real estate professionals who have successfully completed in-depth training and gained comprehensive knowledge on the health, comfort, durability, and energy efficiency benefits of high performance homes in their market. They can help you discover green features; recommend home upgrades, incentives, and rebates; provide information on solar; and so much more.  You can find a list of accredited professionals here.

The National Association of REALTORS also has a GREEN designation. You can find those professionals here.

Look for key (in)efficiency features

Keep an eye out for features that might give you an indication if you have found an energy efficient home–or one that might need some improvements. (Thank you to Realtor Rick Sams for these tips from his April 2020 Power Hour presentation).

  • Age of the home: Homes built before 1992 were required by code to have less insulation. Insulation can be upgraded but it is an important distinction to be aware of.
  • Outside noise: This can be an indication that insulation and air leakage may need attention. Check windows and doors as big culprits.
  • Windows and doors: How well do the seal? Do they rattle?
  • Craftsmanship: Details in the home may be an indication of overall building quality.
  • Water heater: Make sure to take note of how old the water heater is and the make and model. You can look up the efficiency of the water heater if you can’t readily find the EnergyGuide sticker on the unit. If the water heater is electric, one of the biggest energy-saving upgrades you can make is to switch to a heat pump water heater.
  • HVAC: Is the home heated with gas or electricity and what is the efficiency of the furnace/heating system? If the heat pump is more than 10 years old or the furnace is more than 15 years old, an upgrade could save you up to 20% on heating costs. Beyond saving energy, newer systems maintain better indoor air quality. See below for more info on electrically heated homes.
  • Appliances: New appliances have more than just curb appeal, if they are Energy Star certified, they can save A LOT of energy.

Know what you can and can’t fix

This list could be a lengthy list so here is just one example (your Earth Advantage Broker will be able to help you pick out more obstacles and/or opportunities)! From an efficiency perspective, some heating systems are a lot harder to upgrade than others.  For almost all homes with electric resistance heat (baseboards or cadets), getting a more efficient heating system is going to be at the top of the efficiency to do list.

In a home that doesn’t already have ducts, a ductless heat pump is a cost-effective upgrade towards an energy efficient home. However, you will want to take note of the floor plan of the home. A segmented home can make it difficult to heat the living space with a central head. Many retrofitted homes will have a central head in the main living space then use backup heat in the bedrooms and bathrooms. This is a significant boost to efficiency but can require you to still rely heavily on inefficient backup heat in many rooms. Maybe you don’t mind a cool bedroom–that’s great! You just can’t heat some homes in their entirety with a DHP so it’s important to know what your needs are, what goals you have for the overall efficiency of your home, and recognize if it’s going to be hard or costly to put in a more efficient heating system.

Consider the energy efficient home’s solar potential

You’ll really be kicking yourself in a few years if you find out your home simply isn’t a good fit for solar. Home orientation, trees, chimneys, and roof features like dormers can limit your home’s solar potential. If you want to add solar now or later, a southern exposure is preferred, followed by east and then west-facing roofs. Depending on the size of your system, you’re going to want at least 200 sq ft of unobstructed space. You can call a local solar contractor and have them virtually look at the roof to assess its solar potential. If you’re serious about solar, or the home, you can have them come out to do a free assessment.

Find out if the home has an energy certification or an energy score

 

Help Defend Solar Energy: Extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

Why?

Solar energy is the most impactful renewable technology we have to invest in local communities and address climate change. The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is one of the most successful bipartisan clean energy policies ever passed and has helped build a robust solar industry in the United States. It also enjoys overwhelming public support, with 89% of Americans favoring an extension.

According to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) 2019 Solar ITC Impact Analysis, over the next 10 years, the ITC will bring additional deployment of solar, decrease carbon emissions and increase the number of solar jobs and economic investment.

  • With an ITC extension, annual investment in solar would reach $41 billion by 2030, more than 141% greater than the $17 billion invested in 2018.
  • An ITC extension would offset an additional 363 million metric tons of CO2 emissions over the next 10 years, equivalent to 21% of all emissions from U.S. electricity generation in 2018.
  • By 2030, annual offsets will be equivalent to taking 77 million cars off the road or eliminating the emissions from 93 coal plants.
  • The 82 GW of additional capacity spurred from an ITC extension is enough to power more than 15 million American homes.

When:

We need to take action right now. Despite its success, the ITC is currently scheduled to begin phasing out at the end of 2019, with the first step-down to 26% (tax credit covering project costs) happening in 2020.

What:

Urge your federal representatives to ensure the solar ITC is extended before the end of the year. 

Take action today

Open the Door to Savings with EPS

Open the door to energy savings with EPS

Experience the beauty of energy efficiency at this year’s Green Tour. You’ll find homes built for quality, comfort and efficiency, with an EPS™ to prove it. EPS, brought to you by Energy Trust of Oregon, is an energy performance scoring system that gives you an inside look at the energy impact of a newly built home and how much it costs to operate.

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Welcome to the Year of Solar + Storage

A message from E2 Solar, presenting sponsor of the 2019 Green Tour.

Solar + storage may be a new term for many, but the 2019 Green Tour marks a transition point for solar + storage in Central Oregon and beyond. You will have a chance to see, in person, solar + storage systems that allow businesses and homeowners to have resiliency in the event of prolonged power outages and decrease their use and reliance on the utility grid.

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Green Tour Seeking Applications

The 19th annual Green tour will highlight positive solutions to save energy in Central Oregon and we want you to be part of it!

The Energy Challenge is seeking applicants to showcase their homes and buildings on the 2019 Green Tour on Saturday, September 28th. The tour highlights innovation in sustainable design while still demonstrating how everyday people can save energy at home and at work.

The Green Tour highlights both residential and commercial projects and will bring awareness to the opportunities that exist to build energy savings into the design of new buildings as well as how our existing building stock can be retrofitted to be more efficient.

This year the tour is seeking properties that put an emphasis on getting to zero energy use, utilizing solar plus storage, efficient ADUs, or sites that have installed or are planning for electric vehicle charging.

Home or commercial energy retrofits are an equally important part of the tour because they allow us to make a more tangible connection to the kinds of upgrades that we can make in our very own homes and offices.

Designers, builders, realtors, home performance contractors, solar contractors, and homeowners are all encouraged to apply to put a building on the tour.  Those who are interested in applying are invited to fill out a quick and easy preliminary application by Friday, August 2nd.

The tour will take place on September 28th, 2019 from 10:00-4:30.

Expiring tax credits for efficiency products and solar

Excellent motivation to jump on your energy-saving to do list before the end of the year

Almost forty years ago Oregon was a leader in the energy efficiency movement when the state created the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) program. The Oregon Department of Energy has overseen this program with the intention of encouraging Oregon residents to adopt more energy efficient devices from appliances to heating systems to solar panels.

The RETC covers 25 different products but there are a few in particular that we have our eye on because of their potential to save large amounts of energy and their excellent return on investment. Here’s a rundown of a few products that will be affected and how you can get a project started before the tax credits expire.

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Transformation Awaits – Green Tour Site # 4

1639-nw-scott-henry-main-floor

 

Site # 4 – 1639 NW Scott Henry Place, Bend

This model home in the Saginaw Sunset subdivision is the first of what will be a 20-home development of high-performance custom homes. 19 more lots, set amid native ponderosa pines, await a transformation to an efficient custom home just for you! Come see the first home of this beautiful subdivision just off of College Way.

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