Tonight at PDX Lounge, the Portland showcase at the USGBC's Greenbuild Conference, Commissioner Dan Saltzman announced a new incentive and fee program for all new buildings based on their carbon footprint and energy usage profile.
The standard is still just in the talking stage - it hasn't been approved. But it seems very likely to pass in this city council.
As I understand it, the standard would break down like this: If your building is 45% more efficient than energy code stipulations, you'll actually get a rebate check from the city. If your project is 30% better, there'll be no rebate, but also no fee. If your building is less than 30% more efficient than code, you'll be charged what's called a "carbon fee".
As a point of reference, the OHSU Center for Health & Healing by GBD Architects is about 50% more efficient than code, and it attained a 'Platinum' LEED rating from the US Green Building Council. So even if they wouldn't have to attain high LEED ratings, the City is more or less saying that every building built in Portland will need to either meet that range of greenness (the only way to get those kind of efficiencies) or pay the cost in a very literal sense.
This would be the first carbon fee issued by an American city for new buildings.
I'm sure architects and green building enthusiasts would be quite jazzed about this plan. But there also is probably going to be some fear and trepidation. What do the rest of you think?