Edition: Vol. 07, No. 01
Edition date: January 21, 2014

 

Important information from the Oregon Building Codes Division to local building departments.

BCD Office Closures

None

 
BCD Events

None at this time

 
Meetings

Jan. 9: 2014 OESC Committee

Jan. 15: 2014 OPSC Committee

Jan. 23: 2014 OESC Committee

Jan. 29: 2014 OPSC Committee

Feb. 5: Building Codes Structures Board - Canceled

Feb. 12: 2014 OPSC Committee

Feb. 19: 2014 ORSC Committee

Feb. 20: State Plumbing Board

Feb. 26: 2014 OPSC Committee

Feb. 27: Electrical and Elevator Board

 
Adopted Rules

Effective 1/1/14: Permanent Rule - Simple Plan Review

Effective 1/1/14: Permanent Rule - Local Amendment Request

 
 
 
Jurisdiction Questions or Issues

Email: localjurisdictioncontact.bcd
@state.or.us

Contact:
Brett Salmon
503-373-7613

News Updates - January 21, 2014

Survey Provides Feedback on Oregon's Solar Code


Residential solar installation in Oregon - Credit: John Powell

2013 was a record breaking year for solar power in the United States. In fact, solar power was the second leading source of new electricity in the U.S. behind the more established energy source - natural gas. The biggest reason for the surge in solar installations is the rather dramatic drop in the price of panels. In fact, the average price of a solar panel has declined by 60 percent since the beginning of 2011. Despite this drop in the price of panels, solar energy remains a pricey proposition. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Sunshot Initiative is providing funding for projects aimed at reducing "soft costs" to make solar photovoltaic (PV) systems more affordable and cost competitive with other sources of electricity.

According to an October 2013 study by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), soft costs now account for 64 percent of the price of installed residential PV systems. Soft costs include such items as customer financing, system design fees, installer overhead, and the costs and fees associated with installation, such as labor, grid interconnection, inspections, and permitting. Permitting is considered the low-hanging fruit for reducing soft costs.

In an effort to better understand the solar permitting process in Oregon and to improve the information available to installers, the Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO), with funding from U.S. Department of Energy, developed an electronic survey asking local building departments questions about:

  • Submittal requirements
  • Fees
  • Timeframe
  • Inspections
  • Electronic permitting

ETO sent the survey to 103 Oregon building departments (see map of ETO service territory) during August 2013 and more than half completed the survey. Data gathered from the survey is now posted in the national solar permitting database. In addition, ETO shared the aggregated results of the survey at a recent webinar, Easier Permitting for Solar in Oregon. The aggregated survey results offered an interesting glimpse into how well the 2010 Oregon Solar Installation Specialty Code (OSISC), specifically the prescriptive path, is working to streamline the permitting of solar installations around the state.

When the OSISC was developed, it was assumed that installers of small projects would use the prescriptive structural path (see section 105.2 and 305.4 of the OSISC). The prescriptive path requires installers to follow manufacturer's installation instructions and submit all of the following for a permit:

  • Completed solar checklist
  • Simple site plan showing fire fighter access
  • Simple structural plan showing the roof framing
  • Required permit fees

For those jurisdictions with full-service ePermitting, the installer completes the solar checklist online, scans in the site and structural plan, and has the permit issued electronically.

The local building department then follows up with an electrical and structural inspection to ensure a safe installation (see section 108 and 303.1 of the OSISC).

The survey results revealed a little different picture than the prescriptive path outlined above. Building Codes Division (BCD) was pleased to learn that 77 percent of responding building departments charged a flat fee for prescriptive path projects and 67 percent had same-day permitting. However, the survey showed that a significant percentage of local building departments surveyed require additional documentation for prescriptive path projects such as:

  • Mounting details - 84 percent
  • Elevation drawings - 42 percent
  • Electrical diagram - 23 percent
  • Engineer's wet stamp for mounting details - 13 percent

Although Oregon has a more uniform solar permitting process than any other state, there are still plenty of opportunities to streamline the solar projects. BCD wants to hear ideas for improving permitting especially for prescriptive path installations.

Send your comments and suggestions to Gabrielle Schiffer, green building coordinator, or at 503-373-7418.

For a copy of ETO's presentation, Easier Permitting for Solar in Oregon, contact Lizzie Rubado or at 503-546-3614.

For more detailed information on soft costs check out the article, 'Soft Costs' Ring Up Big Tab in PV Installations at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com.

Codes Committee Updates

Electrical Code - Code Adoption Process is Underway
The code adoption process for the 2014 Oregon Electrical Specialty Code (OESC) began October 1, 2013. The fourth committee meeting was held on January 9, 2014. The next meeting will be on January 23, 2014. Approved code amendments will be available to the public on July 1, 2014. The anticipated effective adoption date for the 2014 OESC is October 1, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Dennis Clements, Electrical Program Chief, at 503-378-4459.

Plumbing Code - Code Adoption Process is Underway
The code adoption process for the 2014 Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code (OPSC) began October 1, 2013. The first meeting was held on January 15, 2014. The next meeting will be held on January 29, 2014. The division anticipates the code will be available to the public in early September 2014. The anticipated effective adoption date for the 2014 OPSC is October 1, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Andy Skinner, Plumbing Program Chief, at 503-373-7488 or Andrea Simmons, Policy and Technical Services Manager, at 503-373-2160.

One- and Two-Family Dwelling Specialty Code Process Begins
The code adoption process for the 2014 Oregon Residential Specialty Code (ORSC) began October 1, 2013. The first meeting has been rescheduled to February 19, 2014. The division anticipates the code will be available to the public in early September 2014. The anticipated effective adoption date for the 2014 ORSC is October 1, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Richard Rogers, Chief Building Official, at 503-378-4472, Rex Turner, Structural Program Chief, at 541-306-1126 or Andrea Simmons, Policy and Technical Services Manager, at 503-373-2160.

Structural Code
The adoption process is completed and the draft code is currently being reviewed by the publisher. The code has an anticipated effective date of April 1, 2014. If you would like to review the committee's approved recommendations on code proposals, chapter-related review, and other documents please view the committee website.

For additional code information contact: Richard Rogers, Chief Building Official, at 503-378-4472 or Steve Judson, P.E., Facilities Engineer, at 503-378-4635.

Mechanical Code
The public process is complete and the draft code is currently being reviewed by the publisher. The code has an anticipated effective date of April 1, 2014. If you would like to review the committee's approved recommendations on code proposals, chapter-related review, and other documents please view the committee website.

For additional information please contact: Mark Heizer, Mechanical Code Specialist, at 503-373-0205.

Energy Code
The public process is completed and the draft code is currently being reviewed by the publisher. The code has an anticipated effective date of April 1, 2014. If you would like to review the committee's approved recommendations on code proposals, chapter-related review, and other documents please view the committee website.

For additional information please contact: Mark Heizer, Mechanical Code Specialist, at 503-373-0205.

Federal "Lead Free" Legislation - Clarification

The November 2013 Local Building Department Newsletter contained an article explaining implementation of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act (RLDWA) effective January 4, 2014. The RLDWA is federal legislation focused on reducing manufacturing lead used to create pipes, pipe fittings and fixtures. It is important to emphasize that the previous article was for informational purposes only and that the major focus of the RLDWA is for manufacturers. The RLDWA does not anticipate enforcement of these requirements when a building is being constructed.

If you have any further questions about this matter, please contact Andrea Simmons, Policy and Technical Services Manager, at 503-373-2160.

BCD Staff Update

The division has made several changes to our staff recently. Here is an update of those recent changes:

Jerod Broadfoot
Jerod Broadfoot's role as Eastern Regional Coordinator in the Regional Program has changed to the new role of Industry Training and Outreach Coordinator with the ePermitting group. As part of the ePermitting team, Jerod will focus on contractor outreach efforts, while remaining in the field where he will work directly with the contractor and industry communities that use the ePermitting system. Jerod will be working directly with the contractor communities throughout the state in order to provide education about the system, assess contractor needs, conduct training and perform other outreach related to electronic services provided to contractors.

David Kloss
The transition in the Regional Program opened an opportunity in eastern Oregon, for which the division has recently completed a recruitment. We are pleased to announce that David Kloss, the State Plumbing Chief, has accepted our offer to move into a new capacity as Eastern Oregon Regional Coordinator. David has a wealth of experience as a contractor, inspector, building official and chief that we are sure will make him successful in this new role.

Andy Skinner
In filling the role left by David Kloss, we are pleased to announce that Andy Skinner, plumbing inspector in the Pendleton office, has accepted our offer to be Plumbing Program Chief. Andy is an experienced inspector and an exemplary employee with an excellent customer service record. Andy's nearly 20 years of experience with the division will ensure a seamless transition for the program.


Published by the State of Oregon Building Codes Division.
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