Thursday, May 12, 2022

Portland Developing Climate Standards for Existing Multifamily Buildings

Andrea Durbin, former director of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) who stepped down on April 6, 2022, gave an interview with the World Wildlife Fund this week about the city's efforts to address various socio-environmental issues through the ongoing Climate and Health Standards for Existing Buildings project.

In the interview, Durbin notes multifamily and commercial buildings are the city's largest emitter of carbon and mentions her former department's ongoing efforts to enact climate and health standards for commercial buildings. The project seeks to establish minimum climate and health standards for Portland’s existing apartments, condos, and other commercial buildings.

The BPS has worked in conjunction with the city's Build/Shift collective to create "a policy concept that focuses on reducing carbon emissions from existing buildings while improving rental housing to be healthier, more affordable, and resilient to future climate disasters."

BPS describes examples of the proposed existing building standards policy, but cautions not all standards will be applicable in all cases. Potential standards might include: 

  • Requiring increased ventilation standards to reduce airborne diseases
  • Limiting carbon emissions by improving energy efficiency or increasing renewable energy supply
  • Making buildings and communities more resilient to power outages
  • Setting maximum indoor temperature for heatwave resilience

In April 2022, BPS reported "stakeholder engagement for the development of a city ordinance launched in February. BPS will convene two working groups in April and May: one focused on tenants, and the other on building management and ownership." 

After meeting with the key stakeholders in working groups, BPS plans to release a draft ordinance for public comment, likely in the summer. The BPS website for the project describes key stakeholders to be consulted as building owners and managers, tenant advocates, community organizations, climate advocates, building scientists and engineers, and public health experts.

The project will also create standards for smaller rental apartment buildings with the goal of reducing household energy use and ensuring low-income communities of color benefit from climate action.

Thus far, BPS and the Build/Shift Collective have proposed a set of standards ("HEART" standards) to establish minimum requirements for existing smaller rental apartments that are intended to address:

  • Healthy housing
    Example: Require natural gas stove ventilation to improve indoor air quality.
  • Equitable energy
    Example: Limit carbon emissions for apartments, condos and commercial buildings by improving energy efficiency or increasing renewable energy supply.
    Example: Reduce energy cost burden for low-income tenants. 
  • Anti-displacement
    Example: Prevent risk of displacement when improvements are made.
  • Resilience
    Example: Make buildings and communities resilient to power outages. 
  • Temperature 
    Example: Set maximum indoor temperatures for heatwave resilience.
After the working groups have discussed key decision points for the policy, BPS will prepare a draft
ordinance for public comment. The March 2022 draft policy concept advises that the timeline for taking an ordinance to Council will be determined after stakeholder engagement and public review.

Working Group Details: 

1. Building Working Group focused on impacted property owners: April 13, April 27, May 11, and May 25

2. Tenant Working Group focused on renter priorities: April 20, May 4, May 18, and June 1

Each group will meet four times every other week on Wednesdays from 12-2:30 p.m.

These working groups will inform key decisions like:
  • applicable size thresholds for various building types;
  • minimum health standards or building systems required to improve occupant health and safety;
  • and options for compliance pathways.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment! It has been sent to the moderator for review.