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Policy Profiles

Composting Toilet State Pilot Research Project in Tucson, Arizona

A Tucson based nonprofit, Watershed Management Group (WMG), initiated a research project with EPA funding to see if site-built composting toilets could meet user expectations and if so work towards granting the successful designs ‘reference design’ status with the state of Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which would allow others in Arizona to build these composting toilets as an approved alternative to an on-site wastewater system. After collecting two years of successful data on user feedback and pathogen destruction of the finished composted material, WMG is still waiting to hear back from the Arizona DEQ about their request for reference design status.

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2014 EcoToilet Incentive in Falmouth Massachusetts

The town of Falmouth, Massachusetts near Cape Cod, authorized funding for a pilot project to evaluate the efficacy, installation cost and public acceptance of both composting and urine-diverting toilets (called Eco-toilet Demonstration Program). Homeowners were given rebates and other incentives (called the Falmouth Eco-Toilet Incentive Program) to encourage them to use eco-toilets. Massachusetts is the first state to give a variance to allow urine-diverting fixtures and site-built composting toilets, which do not have ‘product acceptance’ in Massachusetts

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2008 Indoor Graywater Reuse Policies in Oregon

Oregon created a permit pathway for using graywater to flush toilets and urinals in 2008, becoming the tenth US state to do so. To date less than a half dozen projects in the State (at least one residential, one institutional, and two food coops) have utilized this alternative method and most of them have uninstalled the systems. Treating and storing graywater to meet the high quality standard required is often cost-prohibitive. Several large-scale projects like Hassalo on Eighth and OHSU’s Collaborative Health Building have found it more cost effective to treat all combined wastewater for reuse together (including gray- and blackwater).

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2011 Outdoor Graywater Reuse Policies in Oregon

In 2011, Oregon created a permit pathway for reusing graywater to water landscapes in commercial and residential projects. There are three tiers to the permits,based on the level of treatment needed for final end use of the graywater. To date twenty-six tier 1 permits have been granted and one tier 2. The rules establish treatment and monitoring requirements, setbacks, access and exposure controls, site management practices and an annual renewal fee.

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2016 Housing Design Demonstration Policy, Bainbridge Island, WA

Inspired by an innovative housing program in Kirkland, WA, in 2009 the City of Bainbridge Island adopted the Housing Design Demonstration Program (HDDP) to encourage affordable housing, a vibrant pedestrian oriented-downtown, and innovative green building design. The program offers a 1.5x density bonus to green-certified affordable housing projects. To-date more than 250 new homes have been green building certified, with about 100 of those being affordable units.

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Seattle Goes Deep Green with Living Building Pilot Ordinance

In December 2009 the City of Seattle wrote a page in the history of green building leadership, when their City Council adopted Ordinance 123206, establishing the Living Building Pilot Program. The Program’s goal is to promote buildings that meet the Living Building Challenge (full Certification or Petal Recognition) by providing flexibility in development standards in Seattle’s Land use codes. The Bullitt Center building in the Capitol Hill Neighborhood was the first to be built under the Program.

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Tacoma Work/Live Code for Historic Redevelopment

Tacoma Building, Fire and Historic Preservation officials worked with local architect Ben Ferguson to adopt an innovative Live/Work Work/Live code amendment in 2012. Tacoma has a lot of historic buildings with an uncertain future, but the LWWL code makes it easier to adapt existing buildings for modern urban life. By reducing regulatory and financial barriers by not requiring change of use, they have provided a clear path to approval for a new mixed-use building type that caters to today’s market.

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2018 Tiny Houses Appendix Q in International Residential Code

Responding to the urgent need for building code provisions for tiny houses advocates came together using the International Code Council's (ICC) Public Comment process to develop and gain approval for the new Appendix Q Tiny Houses for the 2018 IRC. Though many jurisdictions won't adopt the 2018 IRC for some time, in the interim, the appendix will still provide guidance and aid in the approval process for those pursuing tiny house projects.

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2005 ASTM Standard E2392 for Earthen Wall Systems

This consensus standard was developed by an international task group to serve both U.S. and international needs for sound technical guidance for earthen wall systems, incorporating sustainable building and development goals, and including affordability and use by people of all economic circumstances. It has improved both building safety and recognition of the value of earthen construction internationally.

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2005 Rainwater Harvesting Manual reduces potable water use in Tucson, AZ

In a region where fresh water is considered a precious resource, Tucson Arizona's Water Harvesting Guidance Manual was developed to reduce dependence on existing sources while improving stormwater management. The Manual provides basic information and concepts for developers, engineers, designers and contractors of commercial sites, public buildings, subdivisions and public rights-of-way, to meet stormwater related Land Use Code requirements. The Manual is also useful for water harvesting for residential sites.

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2009 EcoDensity Initiative for accessory dwellings in Vancouver BC

The city of Vancouver, British Columbia created the EcoDensity Initiative and relaxed regulations to encourage the construction of laneway houses with the intention of increasing density and creating alternative housing options in an unaffordable housing market. Since the inception of the program over 2,660 permits have been issued and density has been increased without altering the character of the neighborhoods.

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2017 Oregon Code Amendment for Ductless Range Hood

This code amendment allows for ductless range hoods to be installed in a residence, provided that there is also a whole house mechanical ventilation system installed that has an outdoor air supply. This mechanical ventilation system must meet the minimum exhaust rates as listed in Table M1507.4. It also brings the Oregon Residential Specialty Code into complete agreement with the International Residential Code regarding ductless range hoods.

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2015 Passive House Tax Credit by Pennsylvania Housing Agency

In 2015, Pennsylvania became the US first state to recognize buildings adopting Passive House certification with a scoring advantage, through an annual competitive award program to win low-income housing federal tax credits. In 2015-16, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) awarded the credit to 18 "certifiable" projects totalling 922 housing units, making the state home to the largest concentration of Passive House dwellings in the US.

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Brussels Exemplary Buildings Program + Passive House Law of 2011

As of 2015, Brussels, Belgium became the first region in the world to require the passive house standard for all new construction. By offering incentives to build 243 very low-energy projects, the BatEx or “Exemplary Buildings” program catalyzed the market and showed the standard could be achieved with minimal cost premiums. This resulted in a rapid increase in passive house buildings, thousands of new jobs, and a sharp decline in carbon emissions.

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C406 Commercial Efficiency Options in 2015 Washington Energy Code

Already the most rigorous in the US, the 2015 Washington State Energy Code contains section C406 with eight “additional efficiency package options” to provide a flexible way for projects to comply and take energy efficiency to the next level. The code requires new commercial buildings to incorporate two efficiency options, spurring the state towards its mandate to reduce building energy use 70% by 2031.

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Planned Development District: Innovative Land-Use code, Madison WI

Madison’s new Planned Development district provides a rigorous yet flexible pathway for innovative land-use that encourages sustainable development and green-building. Through the PD rezoning process OM Village was able to codify the designations portable shelter and portable shelter community, allowing OM Village to house Madison’s homeless; a project that would not have been possible without the PD district.

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