Executive summary: “Towards a Sustainable Oregon”
The statewide use of “green” building practices in commercial and residential development could lower energy, water and construction related clean-up costs in Oregon and Washington by more than $90 million per year while providing a direct benefit to salmon habitat and the environment by reducing construction impact on streams and watersheds. Commercial tenants of “green” buildings pay up to 35% less for lighting, heating and cooling, water and sewer fees. Widespread adoption of electricity conservation practices in Oregon and Washington can save hundreds of megawatts of power - generated in this region largely by hydroelectric dams that can have a harmful impact on salmon - and save residential and commercial consumers more than $70 million dollars each year. Simple water conservation measures adopted throughout Oregon and Washington would reduce water consumption by nearly 15 billion gallons each year – enough for 114,000 average families of four for a year – and save consumers $12 million annually on their water bills. Construction sites generate nearly 60,000 pounds of sediment per acre per year. This sediment is a major culprit in clogged streams and damaged salmon habitat, raises the risk of flood damage, and increases filtration costs for water users. Instituting erosion control measures on the 15,500 acres used for construction sites in Washington would save taxpayers nearly $2 million annually. Urban landscaping uses more than a million pounds of pesticides in the Willamette Valley alone – that’s more than three times agricultural use and costs about $760,000. These pesticides runoff with rainfall, polluting streams. Reducing urban pesticide usage to agricultural levels throughout the region would save nearly $1 million in Washington and $780,000 in Oregon. Green building practices can reduce the amount of impervious surfaces (i.e., pavement), that speed rainfall runoff, increasing floods and carrying pollutants into streams by 50 percent. In addition, green buildings use less wood, reducing demand for lumber that may be necessary for intact forest ecosystems and valuable shading of salmon streams.