Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oregon recognizes Passive House standard

The Oregon Passive House community has been buzzing this week about an exciting new development in the state: the Oregon Reach Code Committee adopting a standard recognizing Passive House construction.

It took me awhile to figure out what this meant. Basically, the committee is charged with drafting Oregon's optional set of statewide construction standards for energy efficiency that exceed the requirements of the state's mandatory building codes. Builders who follow the Reach Code are following an optional "green" path for construction.

The committee adopted an amendment to the Reach Code that allows certified Passive Houses to meet the state's energy compliance standard for commercial buildings, and they say they hope to add residential buildings in the near future.

I know, it's still a bit hard to understand if you're not in the construction/building field. But suffice it to say this is a very exciting development in getting Passive Houses more widely recognized as an energy efficient building option and hopefully in spreading the popularity of the standard. According to one article I read, this development could also pave the way for Passive Houses in Oregon to capitalize on green-building incentives -- a very exciting possibility, since it would encourage more people to build Passive Houses if they can get incentives from the state in return.

One of the best articles I read about this news was from Sustainable Business Oregon:

There also was an article on Green Building Advisor, a well-respected green building website:

I'm happy to say that we played a small part in this new Oregon standard. A group of Oregon Building Code Division officials visited and toured our home back in early February, which may have helped spur more discussions. Our house was also presented and discussed at Reach Code meetings. We're glad to know that our story of how comfortable we've been in our home and how much energy we have saved helped influence this positive outcome.


  1. Note that the GBA has some important issues with the current Passivhaus standard. Personally, I hope they get these ironed out before the standard "gets adopted" anywhere.

  2. Since passive houses are a thing of the future it is very necessary that a standard be recognized and this is really a very good news.

  3. Kevin - We heard about Martin Holladay's presentation and also saw his post. Holladay does raise some points that are interesting (and others that I feel are not at all fair or accurate) but that does not mean the Passive House standard is “broken” or that we should prevent people from adopting it. The overall standard should not be ignored because of several examples Holladay disagrees with, especially when so many Passive Houses do not follow these examples. I do not believe his concerns come close to outweighing the extremely strong positives of the Passive House standard, which is why I would still push strongly for people to use this standard.