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This Oregon town lost 700 homes to wildfires — here's how they rebuilt with safer buildings

"What we've found is that energy efficiency is key to fire resiliency."

Talent Oregon; Destroyed homes in Oregon

Photo Credit: iStock

When the town of Talent, Ore., suffered one of the worst wildfire seasons ever, a third of the town's homes were destroyed. But instead of moving away, they decided to rebuild — with sustainability in mind.

Seven hundred buildings were lost in Talent, but according to Fast Company, the town has already rebuilt 113 of them. And with the support of the Energy Trust of Oregon, an Oregon utilities–funded nonprofit that provides incentives for energy efficiency and renewable power, 43 of them have been constructed with sustainable practices in mind. 

These new buildings are employing techniques like triple-paned windows, which provide added protection against the heat of a fire and help save energy used for heating and cooling. These windows can also help keep the air cleaner during wildfires

Homes are also adding layers of insulation to save energy and protect against flames. 

One homeowner, Michael Biggs, told Fast Company that he also outfitted his home with a number of solar panels, a hybrid water heater, a charger for an electric car, and electric heat pumps. His household electric bill is now just $11 a month, and his home is now much more prepared for a disaster that may leave them without access to the power or water grid. 

As Fast Company reported, the Energy Trust granted residents up to $8,000 to make their homes safer and more energy efficient. And more and more homeowners are signing onto the program, continuing the push toward a more sustainable Talent. 

"For any community across the West, adapting to the changing climate must be preparing for longer, more intense fire seasons," Karen Chase, an outreach manager at Energy Trust, told Fast Company. "What we've found is that energy efficiency is key to fire resiliency."

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