Red tape for green projects

| Print |  Email
Archives - December 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Complications with the state's Construction Contractors Board (CCB) could cool the warm glow from incentives aimed at improving home energy use.

According to Adam Pushkas, president of Portland-based Coho Construction Services, a trade ally of the Energy Trust, firms such as his that offer home energy "performance audits" may technically be in violation of the law. He says he was informed by the CCB that if his company continues to offer such services it could face up to $5,000 in fines.

The problem: His technician, who is certified by the Building Performance Institute, is not considered a home inspector by the CCB. "We got nabbed because we have a radio ad," Pushkas says. Although as of mid-November he only had one audit scheduled, he says the calls keep coming. "A lot of people call saying they want to take advantage of incentives," he says. "I don't want to tell people I'm operating illegally."

CCB enforcement manager Richard Blank says the problem is not limited to contractors like Coho operating without an official home inspector license, which he says the law clearly requires because the audits involve inspecting so many aspects of a home's structure.

More importantly, he says it violates a long-established statute that prohibits home inspectors (unlike auto mechanics) from doing the repairs they recommend. "The warning was issued because there may be a conflict" with the law, he says.

Although Blank says Coho is the only green weatherization company to receive such a warning so far, Pushkas maintains his company is one of at least 400 contractors who operate in a similar manner.

He says that even though his 10-year-old company has only performed home audits for a little under two years, he estimates it makes up about 15% of his total business.

Meanwhile the public's demand for weatherization projects statewide continues to grow. Amber Cole, spokeswoman for the Energy Trust, says weatherization projects receiving incentives from her organization increased by about 37% between 2007 and 2008, and by more than 73% during the first three quarters of 2009 compared to 2008. Cole says that the licensing issue will definitely have a negative impact on companies that do weatherization projects.

Blank wouldn't comment on how his agency's regulation, which is just now beginning to be enforced, could potentially hinder the growth of home energy conservation projects, but he says the board has begun to speak with the various parties to arrive at a final decision. "We're not looking to punish anyone," he says, explaining that the CCB appreciates the importance of environmental and energy efficiency programs.

"Environmental and energy conservation are very high on the governor and the legislature's radar," he says. "And this guides their policy." He says the rules can be changed, but says that such a solution probably won't happen overnight.

WILLIAM E. CRAWFORD
 

More Articles

Flattery with Numbers

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The false promise of economic impact statements.


Read more...

The Backstory: Portland Youth Builders

The Latest
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
blog002 1BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward  housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.


Read more...

Portland’s long-distance bike commuters

The Latest
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Matt KellyresizethumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Pushing the extreme.


Read more...

Modern design defines new Portland indoor market

The Latest
Thursday, June 25, 2015
thumbSnøhetta JBPM exterior www mir noBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An international architecture firm known for its design of the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in New York unveiled its plan this week for a modern indoor/outdoor food market at the foot of the Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland.


Read more...

6 key things to know about summer baseball in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, June 05, 2015
basedthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians' thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...

Oregon needs a Grand Bargain energy plan

Linda Baker
Monday, June 22, 2015
0622-gastaxblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Clean Fuels/gas tax trade off will go down in history as another disjointed, on-again off-again approach to city and state lawmaking.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS