Case Study: Seismic Initiative

The Challenge: Strengthening Homes from Earthquakes

The potential for widespread damage to homes after a major earthquake is high, particularly in parts of Oregon and Washington that are located near the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Securing older, more vulnerable homes to their foundations is a critical strategy to help build more resilient communities. In 2014, Enhabit partnered with the City of Portland to upgrade the seismic safety of homes while simultaneously supporting aggressive climate and energy reduction goals by offering bundled energy efficiency and seismic services to homeowners and ensuring access for underserved populations by expanding service reach to below-median homes.

Our Results

Retrofitted 100 homes, bolting to their foundations

Avoided costs of $2.7 million in disaster recovery savings

Secured $500,000 in funding to protect home and families

Responded to more than 5,000 homeowners with questions about emergency preparedness


Our Strategy

Act Now, Save Later

The cost of recovery from an earthquake that has greatly damaged a local community is far greater than the cost to retrofit homes to withstand an earthquake before hits. Together with the City of Portland and the Oregon Office of Energy Management, funding from FEMA was secured to help Portland homeowners upgrade the seismic safety of their homes while strengthening the ability to survive inevitable challenges, like windstorms, heat waves and natural disasters.

Achieve Multiple Goals

Drawing on Enhabit’s high quality, certified contractor network and its ability to provide meaningful engagement with local residents around comprehensive home upgrades, the City of Portland made good progress on a diverse set of goals.

  1. Seismic safety: Mitigate future seismic damage and keep people in their homes.
  2. Climate: Provide homeowners with more than a seismic retrofit by offering energy efficiency upgrades as well, supporting the City of Portland with climate and energy reduction goals.
  3. Equity: Serve below-median homes, ensuring access for underserved populations.

Raise Broad Awareness

The Seismic Initiative was announced directly following the release of the now Pulitzer prize-winning news article, ‘The Really Big One’, featured in The New Yorker. As a result, Enhabit successfully captured the attention of Portlanders, raising awareness around the need for earthquake preparedness while proving homeowners with a concrete strategy to protect their homes and their families.


Packaged Services

Bundle seismic retrofit and energy efficiency services with low-interest financing to meet multiple home safety and energy savings needs.

Equity Score

Dispersed incentive funds weighted to below median home value.

Data visualization and mapping

Filter and target homes in greatest need of seismic retrofits.


Federal Emergency Management Agency Grant

Key Partners

City of Portland

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Oregon Office of Energy Management

U.S. Department of Energy