The State of Oregon has traditionally based their Energy Code on The International Energy Conservation Code.  However, in 2019 they chose to adopt ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2016 as the official 2019 Oregon Zero Energy Ready Commercial Code What is the purpose of this?  The State of Oregon is pushing commercial projects toward net zero energy.  Net zero energy buildings use a total amount of energy on an annual basis that is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. Examples of onsite renewable energy include solar panels and wind turbines.  

Here are some of the changes you can expect to see on your next project 

  • Increased efficiency requirements for some equipment. 
  • Zone thermostatic controls shall not only be capable of controlling within a dead band but must also configurable so a dead band may be modified.  Dead band is defined as the range of values within which a sensed variable can vary without initiating a change in the controlled process.  
  • Throughout the Code, the term capable has been modified to capable and configured.  
  • For Hotel and Motel projects with greater than 50 rooms, there are a variety of controls required for unoccupied and unrented rooms. 
  •  Entry vestibules are now required in new buildings, with a few exceptions, and require controls for automatic shutoff and maximum and minimum setpoint temperatures. 
  • Direct Digital Controls (DDC) are now required for certain applications in both new buildings and alteration or additions. 
  • Chilled water plant monitoring and measurement for energy use and efficiency is now required for all chiller plants over a certain capacity. 
  • All air-cooled DX (direct expansion-refrigerant based cooling) units requiring an economizer must include fault detection and diagnosis with a multitude of required sensors and capabilities. Air-side economizers allow a cooling system to supply outdoor air to reduce or eliminate the need for mechanical cooling during mild or cold weather.  
  • The level of HVAC duct insulation has generally increased from R-5 to R-6 for unconditioned spaces. 
  • New fan efficiency and control requirements including a requirement for all fans between 1/12th hp and 1 hp to be ECM (electronically commutated motor-uses electronic controls to vary its speed) or have a minimum motor efficiency of 70%. 
  • Energy recovery is now required on a much wider range of exhaust air applications. 
  • Spaces with thermostats that do not have automatic closing devices on entry doors will require door switches to shut down the HVAC system under certain conditions. 
  • Commissioning is now required for buildings greater than 50,000 square feet of conditioned area. 
  • Air leakage testing is now required for new construction and can be met through either whole building testing or materials testing. 
  • Building envelope requirements have been enhanced. 
  • Automatic electrical receptacle control is now required in certain applications.  
  • Measurement devices are required in new buildings to monitor electrical energy usage for each of the categorized uses – total, HVAC, interior lighting, exterior lighting and receptacles. 
  • Allowable lighting levels have decreased overall and new lighting controls are now required.  


What does this all mean?  These modifications will likely make a significant impact on overall project costs depending on their applicability to your project. It is best to assume that any average cost per square foot values obtained from previous projects will not be accurate for future projects.  As complex and difficult as construction has been, it just got more even more complicated.  Make sure your design and construction team knows the new codes well and has the sophistication to integrate these changes into the design, budgeting and construction of your next project. 


It you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our Engineering Manager, Tara Wells at [email protected]