About the 2017 Summit

The Build Small Live Large Summit is a gathering place for visionary leaders and policymakers from around the country and across sectors to explore smaller homes as a promising local response to housing shortages and climate change. Smaller homes use less energy and materials, add to the supply of housing options in walkable, high-opportunity neighborhoods, offer flexibility as households change over time, and provide homeowners with a way to offset their mortgages with rental income.

This year’s Summit is focused on homes most commonly referred to as accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. Common names for ADUs include backyard cottages, granny flats, mother in law apartments, laneway housing, garage studios, and attic and basement apartments.

About the Summit Organizers

The Build Small Coalition convenes the 2017 Build Small Live Large Summit with Oregon Metro, the elected regional government for the Portland metropolitan area, and Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions, which is spearheading an initiative to make it easier and cheaper for Portland homeowners to construct a second house on their property. The Summit receives additional support from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

About the Coalition

The Build Small Coalition is a group of public, private and nonprofit partners working together to promote the small-house movement, from creating awareness about smaller homes, including ADUs, to helping advance policies, regulations, and financing tools that will make it easier to build and pay for them. Metro convenes the Coalition as part of its Equitable Housing Initiative.


Heating and cooling our homes makes up about 80 percent of our homes’ total greenhouse gas emissions over their 70-year lifespans. This staggering figure from research by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality helped inspire what today has become the Build Small Coalition. With its partners, the coalition has expanded its focus to research and promote the role smaller homes could play in addressing issues of housing affordability and housing choice. It sees a strong potential in smaller housing as a tool to create more modestly-priced housing choices in high-demand neighborhoods.

The first Build Small Live Large Summit in 2012 focused on promoting small single-family homes, while the second in 2015 explored different types of smaller housing, including tiny homes on wheels and pocket communities. This year’s summit will continue to promote the small-house movement with its theme focused on accessory dwelling units.