November 18, 2020

Resources for 2021 Oregon Energy Code Change


The 2021 Oregon residential specialty code (ORSC) is on track to go through a full update for homes permitted on or after April 1, 2021. In order to understand energy code updates, it’s helpful to recognize the key factors influencing its progress – particularly Governor Kate Brown’s executive orders (EO) 17-20 and 20-04. The EO’s provide the reasoning and key targets the next three code cycles will follow.

EO 17-20, issued in late 2017, includes a provision directing the Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) to have residential building code meets energy performance equivalent with the US Department of Energy’s 2017 Zero Energy Ready Home certification by 2023. EO 17-20 also directed the BCD to add solar ready language into the ORSC by October 1, 2020. According to that deadline, BCD added solar ready language into the 2021 ORSC. Explore EO 17-20 for more information.

EO 20-04, issued in March of 2020, directs BDC to adopt building energy efficiency goals for 2030 for new residential and commercial construction. That goal shall represent at least 60% reduction in new building annual site consumption of energy, from the 2006 Oregon residential and commercial codes. In addition, it directs BCD to adopt an Oregon Residential Reach Code (ORRC), along the same timeline as the ORSC. The reach code is a meant to be an economically and technically feasible voluntary code that incorporates features that could integrate into the next code update as prescriptive code requirements. Read more about EO 20-04 here.

Beyond understanding the drivers and directives the state will follow, there are resources that builders, trades, suppliers, and consultants can follow to ensure they are meeting the adopted codes. In order to understand what the proposed code looks like and to see state guidance, review the following resource:

Reach out to your local Home Builder’s Association as an additional resource for code changes. Once codes are poised to go live, reach out to your local building department.

Beyond these resources, stakeholders often ask for or benefit from guidance on how to meet specific provisions/measures in code. A number of excellent resources exist to help understand the processes and materials needed. Check out these resources on BetterBuiltNW and bookmark our resources page as we continue to add more technical guides over the next six months:

Additional resources include:

Finally, utilize verifiers/raters to help builders and trades gain perspective from consultants who are familiar with advanced measures. The verifiers/raters may be able to help builders leverage utility incentives to help buy down the first cost of an increased stringency in code. Find Oregon-based raters/verifiers with:

Prepare for upcoming code changes in Oregon by leveraging the resources listed above and connecting with verifiers/raters for more direct support.

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