Green Building “Feebates” in Portland, OR

937 Condos in Portland, OR. Image Source: 937 Group.

Officials in Portland, OR are proposing a new large scale green building campaign, the first of its kind in the states. It in fact is a “feebate” program, where developers who meet certain green standards will be given significant rebates to offset development costs.

Here’s how it works:

–          For new commercial buildings 20,000 square feet or larger, developers are normally charged $3.46 per square foot as a type of tax. However, the fee would be waived if a building is to achieve LEED Silver certification. Buildings with LEED Gold, LEED Platinum or the Living Building Challenge will receive rebates from $1.73-$17.30 per square foot to offset costs.

–          Multi-family residential properties 5,000 square feet or more would have the same requirements as commercial buildings and will receive rebates from $0.51-$5.15 per square foot. Large projects 50,000 square feet or larger must meet LEED Silver and cannot use wood products, urea formaldehyde or vinyl flooring.

This policy requires buildings to achieve specific LEED credits and will need to emphasize other “green” processes such as energy efficiency or water use reduction. Existing structures are not required to make adjustments but will have to publicly disclose energy usage by 2013.

This proposed policy is in response to the to the fact that the City of Portland wants to increase green standards in the city but cannot legally enforce a building code that is more stringent than the state building code. It also acknowledges the fact that developers influence much of the current building practices so this will hopefully coerce more green building solutions.

Portland is already known for its green initiatives and influential programs. It was awarded the title of Greenest City in America by Popular Science in 2008. Even though the “feebate” policy has not been instated yet, Ralph DiNola of the Green Building Services in Portland, believes that there will be support among the residents of the city, who are no strangers to sustainability.


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