Help Recode Be Sustainable

Since 2008 Recode has successfully changed codes to legalize sustainability. We need your help to continue transforming the way our built environment interacts with the earth. Become part of this successful movement by becoming a monthly donor. Your help is directly responsible for making this inspiring, complicated, necessary, powerful work happen. Thank you!

Mission: Recode changes codes to legalize sustainable building and development practices by creating collaborative relationships with all interested stakeholders.

Why: We believe that human beings can use effective design to meet our needs while living in harmony with the environment. When our infrastructure was designed we didn’t understand the needs of the environment and the limitations of natural resources. By consciously redesigning our built environment, through changing codes, we can protect the natural world and create a sustainable, regenerative future for ourselves. 

We believe that codes can be redesigned to be performance based, shifting away from compartmentalization to an acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of all systems. Performance-based codes stipulate what needs to be accomplished while providing flexibility about how it is accomplished. Traditional codes are prescriptive, based on the specific details of a systems design. Written in an era with different concerns and different technologies, they can restrict creativity and innovation. Performance-based codes stipulate outcomes, not designs. This allows for innovation to be integrated quickly into the built environment and creates space for adaptations and improvements, that might be unimaginable today.

 Codes: We began by legalizing graywater, have expanded the types of composting toilets that can be used in Oregon, have written a national composting toilet code for the International Association of Plumbers and Mechanical Officials, and advocate for a transition to a performance based code regulatory framework for on-site sanitation.

Community: We are all community members in addition to being policymakers, installers, business owners, users and inspectors. Everyone is affected by and uses water and sanitation. Recode believes in working with all interested parties to collaboratively design systems that protect human health, the environment and conserves the precious resource of water.

Process: To create a sustainable, resilient society we need to use intentional human process, good communication and consciously transform power dynamics. 

“Recode was an invaluable asset in the campaign for legalizing graywater reuse.  Recode ably coordinated the many groups working on this bill and brought the voice of the grassroots to the legislative table. Recode’s efforts to remove regulatory barriers to sustainability is incredibly important work.”   -Ben Cannon, Oregon Representative 

Recode Projects

Recode Training

Thanks to our funders we are offering a two day training as an introduction to our methods and strategies. This is a great chance to learn how Recode has been so effective at changing codes so quickly and apply these lessons to your own passions.

National Plumbing Code for Composting and Urine Diversion Toilets

Recode’s composting toilet code with options for urine diversion was written for IAPMO’s Green Supplement to the Uniform Plumbing Code. You can view Recode’s April 2014 draft code language online. The code language, if adopted by the IAPMO committee process, will be available in the

Advocating for Performance Based Codes

Performance based codes stipulate that systems remove a required amount of pollution from human “waste” before it is released to the land or water. Prescriptive codes only stipulate a systems look. Ecological sanitation has the potential to breakdown pharmaceuticals, unlike conventional wastewat

Ecological Sanitation Tour

Recode toured the state in 2012 to educate communities & regulators in Oregon about the benefits of creating "waste" treatment rules for Oregon that judge alternatives to septic and sewer systems on their performance and let alternatives compete on cost. Our goal was to lay the groundwork for a po

Legalized Graywater Reuse in Oregon

Recode organized the first public forum on graywater reuse in April 2008, co-sponsored by the Office of Sustainable Development. We invited the wider Portland community to discuss their desire for gray water reuse and their values around water. Recode mobilized a process that resulted in DEQ graywat

Legalized Site Built Composting Toilets in Oregon

Recode legalized site built composting toilets and non-NSF 41 certified manufactured composting toilets in 2011 through Reach Code 1307.4 amending OAR 918-465-0040 & 918-465-0070. Our performance based code protects human health while giving home owners an affordable option for installing compostin