By Don MacGillivray

In spite of climate change and global warming, Portland is on the way toward enacting measures to reduce carbon emissions. The City has just introduced a new residential energy policy to provide an evaluation of the energy use in every home.

Scoring home energy usage will help to make our housing more energy efficient, affordable, environmentally-friendly and to provide consumer information that will lead to safer, healthier, and more comfortable homes.

Energy guides, such as labels on appliances and automobile ratings of miles traveled per gallon, help consumers make informed decisions. Similar consumer labeling for homes is inconsistent and generally unavailable. Of Portland’s 160,000 single family homes, fewer than two percent can accurately and easily evaluate the efficiency of their energy usage.

Home sellers will be asked, prior to the sale of single-family homes, to purchase a home energy performance report costing approximately $200 that will provide their energy score. The costs of heating and powering homes is often unaccounted for in the home-buying process.

The City of Portland wants to record all the the energy scores for statistical purposes and the score will accompany the information about the home for those interested in purchasing the property. This will allow home buyers to compare energy costs and performance with other homes.

Consumers will have greater protection when making the big financial investment of their home. Energy efficiency is a good investment for reducing monthly energy costs and increasing home’s value.

Portland and Multnomah County’s 2015 Climate Action Plan is working to reduce local carbon emissions by 80% over the next 35 years. This policy along with many others move Portland effectively toward this important goal.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability developed the draft policy over many months with help from real-estate professionals, home builders, individual home sellers and buyers, energy experts, affordable housing and equity advocates and others interested in this policy area.

Carbon emissions from buildings in Portland are divided about 50-50 between commercial / industrial buildings and residences Two years ago, the city began a program to score the energy use in commercial buildings and today, 80% of these buildings are participating in the program. This policy area was first mentioned in the 2009 Climate Action Plan. This will be a significant step in the progress toward improving the energy efficiency of Portland’s housing stock.
The draft policy can be found at: portlandoregon.gov/bps/homeenergyscore. Public hearings will be held by Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission as well as City Council prior to its adoption.

Questions about the Home Energy Policy may be directed to Andria Jacob at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. 503.823.7700