Oregon Statute Removes Barriers to Accessory Dwelling Units

The Align Project Accessory Dwelling Unit

Seattle, like many municipalities around the nation, is grappling with how to zone in accessory dwelling units to accommodate those who want to live in smaller homes.

According to Margaret Morales in her Sightline Institute blog “The Forgotten Green Housing Option: Accessory Dwelling Units” accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are an important tool in the fight against climate change. To help make smaller footprint living more prevalent, though, building and zoning codes may need to change

As Seattle’s stock of small home options in its single-family zones shrinks every year, so does its energy-smart housing stock. ADUs could change this, offering Cascadians interested in green housing more home choices in neighborhoods across the city. The climate benefits of ADUs accrue not only from their compact size, and attendant slashed heating, cooling, and lighting bills, but also from reductions in building materials. Attached accessory dwellings in particular, like basement apartments or above-garage units, can take advantage of existing materials and structures, thereby cutting energy costs from material manufacture, transport, and construction even further. In addition, most Cascadian cities, including Seattle, regulate ADU size to 1,000 square feet or less, even smaller than the small home the Oregon DEQ studied. This suggests the climate savings of an ADU compared to a medium sized new homes would be even greater than in the report.

Related Story: Align Your Space: How Much Room Do You Need to Be Happy?

A new Oregon statute required local governments to remove barriers to ADUs in urban residential zones by July 1. The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development has issued an informal guidance paper, which can be found here.

Read the full blog, which includes statistics on the impact of housing on CO2 emissions and waste here.

Photo: The Align Project. You can see this house in person at Solar Power International, CES, and IBS.