To oversee sustainable construction, Portland has a team most cities don’t, called the Alternative Technology Advisory Committee. These volunteers review evidence that alternative materials can meet the intent of the code and have approved quite a few natural building applications.
If you want to build a permitted structure using natural materials, you can take an extra step and submit an appeal to the Committee. They have approved certain natural building techniques when used in specific ways. For example, light straw clay has been approved if it is non-structural and properly vented. Cob and straw bales can be used as part of certain wall systems as well. We typically go through the appeal process before creating the final construction documents, to find out if the desired material will be allowed.
Communitecture has designed permitted straw bale and light straw clay buildings and can provide you with drawings and documentation to have your natural structure approved as well. We can do an initial code and zoning study to assess feasibility and carry your project all the way through permitting. If you have an unusual idea, we would love to talk.
Unusual ideas are exactly what make Portland a leader in sustainable development and we’re thrilled to be part of the progress.