City of Portland Launches Home Energy Score

First-in-the-nation program provides new insight into energy use and costs of Portland homes.

ORTLAND, Ore. – The City of Portland’s Home Energy Score program took effect on January 1, 2018, requiring sellers of single-family homes to disclose a Home Energy Report and Score at the time of listing.

Portland is the first city in the U.S. to require a Home Energy Score and Report to be made available to prospective buyers in real-estate listings, such as RMLS.

Like a miles-per-gallon rating for a car, a Home Energy Score is an easy way for sellers, buyers, real-estate professionals and builders to get comparable and credible information about a home’s energy use across the housing market.

The City of Portland’s Home Energy Score website, www.pdxhes.com, has everything sellers, buyers and real-estate agents need to know about the requirement.

“A Home Energy Score lets buyers ‘see inside the walls’ of a home they’re considering for purchase, making the full costs of homeownership more visible to prospective buyers,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Cutting the energy costs of housing is one of the smartest strategies to keep housing affordable over the long term. Beyond lowering energy bills, energy‐efficient homes are more comfortable and have better air quality. I’m proud that Portland is taking a stand for consumer protections and climate action — making it easier for people to save energy, protect against rising energy prices in the future and reduce carbon pollution.”

How it works

Homes are scored on a 10-point scale. If a home scores a 5, it is expected to perform comparably to an average home in Portland in terms of energy use. A score of 10 means a home ranks among the top 10 percent of homes expected to use the least amount of energy. A home scoring a 1 is estimated to consume more energy each year than 85 percent of homes. If a home has received a Home Energy Score, the Home Energy Report will be available at the Portland Green Building Registry.

Scores will be produced by third-party Home Energy Assessors authorized by the City of Portland and Earth Advantage. The growing list of authorized professionals can be found at www.earthadvantage.org/pdxhes/assessors.html. The price of the Home Energy Report is determined by the private sector, but home energy assessments in similar programs in other communities range from $150 to $250. In 2018, the City will offer free Home Energy Scores to income-qualified sellers.

The Home Energy Assessment takes about an hour. Seventy pieces of information about insulation, windows, furnaces, hot water heaters and more are observed and recorded. As soon as the data from the assessment has been entered into the software, the Home Energy Score and Report will be available.

No action is required by the seller beyond providing the Score and Report in listings and inside the home while it’s for sale. But if sellers or buyers are interested in making energy improvements, the nonprofit Enhabit offers free consultations with expert home energy advisors. For low-cost, do-it-yourself ways to cut energy waste, increase comfort and lower energy bills, Energy Trust of Oregon provides resources at www.energytrust.org/tips.

New website offers support

The City of Portland’s new Home Energy Score website is designed to help all participants in the real-estate transaction learn about and comply with the new regulations.

For sellers, the website explains the necessary actions for completing the requirement and answers questions about logistics, how to get a home assessed and how to improve scores.

Buyers are guided through the Home Energy Report and prompted to wrap energy improvement projects into financing.

Real-estate professionals can learn how to make the new policy work effortlessly for their clients and post the scores online.

Builders can find information about how to obtain a score based on construction plans as well as possible exemptions and waivers.

The website is also a place to find out how to become a Home Energy Assessor.

Background

In 1993, Portland became the first city in the United States to adopt a local plan to address climate change. While Portland experienced a major growth spurt and added thousands of jobs, total carbon emissions have dropped 21 percent below 1990 levels.

Energy efficiency is the foundation of all of Portland’s energy and climate work. The global-award-winning Climate Action Plan aims to reduce energy use in existing buildings by 25 percent by 2030. The Home Energy Score, unanimously adopted by Portland City Council in 2016, is part of a strategy to label the energy performance of Portland’s entire building stock. Since 2015, Portland’s largest commercial buildings (over 20,000 square feet) are required to monitor and report their energy performance. More than 800 buildings are now reporting — a 90-percent compliance rate.

As with the MPG rating in cars, we expect that access to this information over time will lead to greater adoption of energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions from the built environment.

For more information, visit www.pdxhes.com, or contact [email protected] or the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-5771.

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About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) develops creative and practical solutions to enhance Portland’s livability, preserve distinctive places and plan for a resilient future. BPS collaborates with community partners to provide comprehensive land use, neighborhood, district, economic, historic and environmental planning, and urban design; research, policy and technical services to advance green building, energy efficiency and the use of solar and renewable energy, waste prevention, composting and recycling, and a sustainable food system; and, policy and actions to address climate change. This interdisciplinary approach strengthens Portland’s position as an international model of sustainable development. www.portlandoregon.gov/bps