What codes has Recode written? Where are they in the process of being adopted by states?

Recode has been part of code writing at the state and model code level.  Recode worked on a composting toilet and urine-diverting composting toilet code for IAPMO’s 2015 Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement. The 2015 Green Supplement will not be released and is instead serving as the foundation for WE-Stand 2017, IAPMO’s upcoming National Standard for water efficiency standard. IAPMO is a plumbing and mechanical industry model code writing organization whose codes have been adopted by jurisdictions worldwide.

Within Oregon, Recode contributed the composting toilet and light straw clay sections of the 2011 Reach Code, which legalized site built and non-NSF composting toilets. Our language is not in the new 2016 Reach Code. These codes will increase the accessibility of composting toilets. Additionally, Recode member Brenna Bell served on the Oregon DEQ Graywater Advisory Committee while Recode member Josh Klyber currently serves on the Alternative Technology Advisory Committee.

Sometimes legislation needs to be changed to trigger new codes. Recode worked with a wide net of community members to ask legislators to sign House Bill 2080 with Rep. Ben Cannon, which they drafted with Senator Jackie Dingfelder.  HB 2080 initiated Oregon DEQ’s process for creating graywater rules.

How do you change codes and policies to legalize sustainability? What is your formula for success?

Recode works to ensure access to and accelerate adoption of sustainable building and development practices by tackling a few specific leverage points at a time. With our limited resources we thinks its more important to be truly successful on one issue, than go after a bunch at once. All codes and regulations require a lot of collaboration across specialities. It’s really difficult for any individual or group to take credit, since code changes are the reflection of many groups working together to balance safety, health and environmental concerns.  We find it is easier to work together when we can find a common goal with our collaborators and by coming to the table with solutions rather than demands. We work with and assist the needs of three primary audiences: agencies, practitioners, and early adopters. We believe that the main barriers to implementation of sustainability are either regulatory, informational, or financial. The process will be different and unique to each group but we recommend taking a targeted and technical approach to regulatory barriers and an open and equitable approach to all collaborators. Being nice and fun to work with goes along way.

Also check out the International Living Future Institute’s policy resources on Collaborative Advocacy and their Water Policy Guide.


I’m wanting examples of ecological water management (net zero water) precedents and policies that encourage such practices.

Code Innovations Database is a technical resource for precedents of high-performance green building innovations.

Check out the International Living Future Institute’s new case studies about projects that found permit pathways for ‘net positive water systems’:


Greywater Action has excellent information on codes and policies related to graywater reuse, rainwater harvesting, and composting toilets in the United States.

The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association has created a performance based model code supported by the US EPA. NOWRA’s model code does not follow exactly the same performance standards Recode prefers but provides excellent guidance on implementing design standards and a verification regime.

The Green Center in Cape Cod conducted research as the New Alchemy Institute in the seventies and currently supports various ecological efforts.

Recommended reading in Regards to Legalizing Sustainability:

Economics of Change: Integrated Policy Approaches to Unlocking the Value of a Restorative Built Environment by Theddi Wright Chappell, (Sustainable Values Inc), Stuart Cowan, Ph.D. (Autopoiesis LLC), Richard Graves (International Living Future Institute), and Jason Twill (Systems Economics LLC).

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) has several useful documents to check out:

The Guardian did a great article, Bodies into food and sewage into beer: you are the hot new thing in recycling, on ecological sanitation and highlighted Rich Earth Insitute’s research into reusing urine as a fertilizer.

“Every day you’re pissing away a loaf of bread,” says Noe-Hays. “The US could meet a quarter of its fertilizer needs just by reclaiming all the urine produced in a year.”

Recommendations for Improving the CALGreen Code is a summary and discussion from April 2015’s “Green Codes for California: A Progress Report and Recommendations from the LEED and CALGreen user group.”

The International Living Future Institute’s has shared research reports and roadmaps for fundamentally changing our approach to regulating water in our built environment.