Protecting Oregon's Environment
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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Land Quality 

Solid Waste

Prevention and Reuse
Recovery and Compost
Oregon Recycling Laws:
A History
Conferences, Training & Workshops

Waste Prevention and Reuse

Green Building

Current workAdditional work  |  Prior Research  |  Additional Resources  |  Contact  |  Presentations

DEQ’s Green Building Program focuses on reducing the environmental impacts of building material consumption over the lifecycle of residential homes. This page summarizes DEQ’s current and recent work in this field.

Current Work

Additional Actions on Space-Efficient Housing

DEQ research shows that reducing house size is the most effective way to reduce both material and energy-related impacts of residential homes. The work below represents DEQ’s efforts toward having the residential construction field recognize home size reduction as an effective green building strategy.

  • Build Small | Live Large
    This one-day housing summit challenged architects, developers, builders, remodelers, urban designers, policy makers and real estate professionals to craft strategies for a growing demand in smaller housing. This conference demonstrated the leading edge of the housing movement– where design, cost, and care for the environment intersect with the needs of today’s families. All sessions were video recorded, so visit the linked site above to view the presentations.
  • Oregon REACH code
    This statewide optional building code aims to keep the state’s design and construction industry at the forefront of high-performance building by providing both a preview of measures likely to be considered in the next mandatory building code and also a testing ground for innovative design and new technology. DEQ worked with stakeholders to incorporate size-based tiers into the residential REACH code. These tiers require larger homes to be more energy efficient while encouraging construction of smaller homes. Washington State’s mandatory residential energy code uses a similar tier structure.
  • Earth Advantage Institute
    As Oregon’s leading green building certification program, Earth Advantage Institute, a non-profit organization, partnered with DEQ on research and used the results to help inform revision of its rating system for new homes. Most notable was the dramatic increase in the number of points allotted to smaller homes. Previously, home size reduction was not given credit commensurate with its environmental benefit.
  • Energy Trust of Oregon
    This non-profit organization provides incentives for energy-efficient new construction practices as well as retrofits on existing homes. It recently recognized the energy saving benefits of detached accessory dwelling units by allowing full-scale “new home” incentives to be applied to units.
  • GreenPoint Rated
    This California based nonprofit administers a labeling and certification program for new and existing homes. Its program already accounts for home size as a function of operational energy consumption. The group is now using DEQ research to inform the material-related impacts of different size homes based on embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions from material production.

Prior Research

As part of implementing its Waste Prevention Strategy, DEQ completed a study evaluating environmental benefits of several residential building and design practices that are intended to prevent solid waste by either using less material or reusing materials over a home’s lifespan. Besides solid waste prevention, DEQ evaluated other environmental benefits of each practice, such as greenhouse gas reductions through material savings and operational energy conservation, toxic emission reductions, and a range of other human health and ecosystem quality-related benefits.

The research identified which practices have the biggest environmental benefit over the life of a residential home. The results inform and support decisions by DEQ and others to form programs, policies and actions to prevent waste generation from the residential building sector in a way that maximizes overall environmental benefits.


A Life Cycle Approach to Prioritizing Methods of Preventing Waste from the Residential Construction Sector in the State of Oregon

Final Report (Phase 2)

Phase 1 Report

Additional Resources

DEQ‘s Green Building Program is focused on researching and increasing the adoption of waste prevention practices in residential construction. Since the program is not a comprehensive green building program, DEQ offers the following links for those seeking more information on green building:


Jordan Palmeri, Science and Policy Analyst
Green Building Program
[print version]


For more information about DEQ's Land Quality programs, visit the DEQ contact page.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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