On firm financial footing, Oregon must invest in healthy, affordable, resilient homes and buildings in the face of the climate crisis

a group photo of people holding signs in support of the building resilience bill package in Salem

Original post written by:

Brad Reed, Campaign Director, Building Resilience

brad@buildingresilience.org, (971) 217-6813

a logo with Building Resilience text and an icon of a house with the state of Oregon outlined inside and an outline of a family of three

On the heels of an encouraging revenue forecast today, a broad coalition is urging lawmakers to urgently invest in the Resilient, Efficient Buildings package to protect Oregon families from the climate crisis.

The five bills (SBs 868 – 871; HB 3166) give legislators a critical opportunity to ensure that the homes and buildings where Oregonians live, work, and learn are safe and energy efficient, to lower energy costs for ratepayers, to leverage federal dollars, and to improve indoor air quality and health outcomes. 

“Our homes and buildings are our first line of defense against the climate crisis,” said Jana Gastellum, Executive Director of the Oregon Environmental Council. “With record high temperatures already here, we can’t wait a moment longer to take action to keep Oregon families across the state safe and lower skyrocketing utility bills. We urge the legislature to invest in the Resilient, Efficient Buildings package to protect our communities and our climate.” 

[The Environmental Center] is part of the broad Building Resilience coalition that has emerged in support of the package, including Unite Oregon, the Oregon Food Bank, Climate Solutions, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Oregon Business For Climate, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, and more. 

The legislation comes at a critical time — just last month, Oregon State University released a report raising the alarm on the climate crisis in Oregon. In years to come, temperatures will grow more extreme. Water shortages will become more dire. And the likelihood for another heat dome – like the one that killed nearly 100 Oregonians across the state two years ago — will increase. 

“The climate crisis touches all of us, but it hits frontline communities — people of color, low-income families, rural communities, and those with disabilities — first and worst,” said Joel Iboa, from Oregon Just Transition Alliance. “Every single Oregonian, no matter who we are or where we live, has a right to be safe in their homes. And no family should be forced to choose between paying an energy bill and putting food on the table. Oregon can’t wait any longer for meaningful action on resilient homes and buildings.” 

The Resilient, Efficient Buildings package is currently in the legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means, where budget writers are determining which of many, many bills to fund and by how much.

“This week’s record heat wave is another scorching reminder that our lawmakers need to act now to protect our communities from climate harms,” said Meredith Connolly, Oregon State Director for Climate Solutions.  “If Oregon legislators don’t pass these solutions now, we risk missing out on our fair share of hundreds of millions of federal dollars to address the climate crisis. Our state leaders must invest in these bills without delay, for our climate and communities.”

The bill package takes a holistic approach to improve both future and current homes and buildings. It updates state building codes to reflect Oregon’s climate goals, ensures future buildings are built smart from the start, with higher energy efficiency to reduce energy bills and improve resilience and indoor air quality. The bills also help to maximize financial incentives for energy efficiency and make it easier for Oregonians to install heat pumps, super efficient devices that heat and cool all in one, in current homes and buildings — especially for low income and climate-vulnerable households. The legislation will help Oregon families to access and leverage millions in federal Inflation Reduction Act dollars and it sets a goal of deploying 500,000 new heat pumps to Oregonians by 2030.

More about the Resilient, Efficient Buildings package: 

The Resilient, Efficient Buildings package will: 

  • Help Oregonians maximize rebates and incentives to purchase and install heat pumps, prioritizing low-income and climate-vulnerable households. Sets a target of installing 500,000 new heat pumps statewide by 2030. (Healthy Heating and Cooling for All, Senate Bill 868)
  • Ensure new buildings are constructed efficiently to save Oregonians’ money on energy bills, improve indoor air quality, and reduce climate pollution (Build Smart from the Start, Senate Bill 869)
  • Drive energy efficiency improvements and pollution reduction for our largest commercial buildings through flexible requirements and financial incentives (Building Performance Standards, Senate Bill 870)
  • Reduce climate pollution from state-owned buildings, helping to reach our pollution reduction goals and ensuring our government leads by example. (Smart State Buildings, Senate Bill 871)

A companion bill, HB 3166, will create a one-stop shop for accessing energy incentives, helping Oregon families understand their options and make the right choices for their homes. 

About the Building Resilience Coalition:

Building Resilience is a growing, statewide coalition of climate justice and public health, business and labor, faith and frontline communities, environmental, family, and youth organizations, and thousands of individual Oregonians advocating for legislative action to promote healthy, affordable, resilient homes and buildings that run on clean energy. You can view the full coalition list here.

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