By Don MacGillivray

In the 2017 energy audit of three quarters of Portland’s large buildings scored above the national average as compared with other major cities across the United States.

This was the third annual energy performance report of large commercial buildings. Reducing energy used in buildings saves money and makes the atmosphere cleaner. This is one illustration of Portland’s environmental leadership and serves as an example for other cities at home and abroad.

There were 895 commercial buildings over 20,000 square feet that were asked to report their energy consumption. The city received 854 reports.

Eighty-three percent were considered compliant. Only ten percent were non-compliant and the remaining seven percent were either exempt or information was incomplete.

The most energy efficient buildings in the Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID) were: the Templeton Building at 230 E. Burnside and the Eastside Lodge at 949 E. Burnside, both with scores of a hundred percent.

Other Central Eastside buildings with scores over ninety percent were: the Olympic Mills Commercial Center, Oregon Electric Building, the Troy Laundry Building, the Multnomah County Building, and the Eastbank Commercial Center. Over half of the scored buildings in the city achieved a rating of seventy percent or better.

The energy efficiency in buildings is becoming increasingly important. Buildings that score below the median often use five times more energy as those at the median.

Older buildings often score better than newer buildings. Generally buildings built in the 1940s receive better scores than those built in the 1960s.

The reports on energy performance used the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

This program was begun in 2015 with the cooperation of building owners and property managers that provided their expertise in its development and implementation locally.

The annual report summarizes the findings and this data is available online for public use. The publication allows managers, tenants, as well as others broad transparent access to building energy data.

It allows for easy comparisons of energy performance and allows everyone to make better decisions concerning these buildings. Those responsible for the buildings can improve their efficiency.

Because of Portland’s leadership on climate issues, the City will receive services valued at $2.5 million as one of the winners of the Michael Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge.

Portland was included because of the city’s innovative and ambitious climate action plans to reduce air pollution and city-wide emissions. Part of the grant will be used to make city buildings highly efficient through the use of clean, renewable energy, in order to reach the emissions goals of 2030.

Oregon utilities, nonprofits, and government agencies collaborate with Energy Trust of Oregon to deliver significant clean energy benefits for Oregon. They are co-sponsor in the Energy Star program.

The goal is to reduce the energy usage in Portland by ten percent within five years as suggested by with United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Energy Trust serves customers in four market sectors: residential, commercial/public, industrial, agricultural and renewable energy.

One of the their projects is the Matt Dishman Community Center in Portland’s Inner NE, operated by Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R). The Center serves everyone who use the center’s gymnasium, fitness center, multipurpose classroom, neighborhood preschool and pool.

This 1950s-era building had an outdated heating system so Energy Trust provided a cash incentive of $92,000 to help pay for the installation of two natural gas-fired condensing boilers to heat the buildings and pool.

This trimmed energy costs by an estimated $27,000 annually. Energy Trust is working with PP&R to save more energy in many of their less efficient buildings.

Portland introduced a similar energy policy in 2016 to evaluate energy usage in single family homes. Fewer than two percent of Portland’s 160,000 single family homes were able to accurately and easily evaluate the efficiency of their energy usage.

The home energy scores will help to make housing stock more affordable, environmentally friendly, and provide consumer information that will lead to safer, and healthier homes.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability developed a draft policy over many months with help from real estate professionals, home builders, individual home buyers, energy experts, and affordable housing advocates.

The costs of heating and powering homes are often unaccounted for in home-buying. Scores accompany information about the home for those interested in purchasing residential real estate. Home buyers can compare energy costs and performance of the home with other homes on the market. This gives consumers important information.

Goals like this are part of the 2015 Climate Action Plan that hopes to see a forty percent reduction in carbon emissions below the 1990 levels by 2030.

Commercial buildings that are responsible for one quarter of Portland’s carbon emissions are a major part of the city’s effort to reduce emissions.

Other components of the Climate Action Plan include emissions from: transportation, generation of electricity, and the burning of fossil fuels.

Portland has been named the tenth greenest city in the nation, according to WalletHub, a financial advisory and analysis website that looks at air quality, greenhouse gas emissions per-capita, green space, water quality, transportation and energy sources to determine award winners.