The extreme heat events of June 2021 were consistent with the worst-case climate modeling for the Pacific Northwest. Over the course of several days, almost 100 Oregonians lost their lives to extreme temperatures, with more than 70 deaths in Multnomah County. This heat wave was the deadliest documented natural disaster in Multnomah County’s history during the past 200 years. While it is difficult to predict the next extreme heat event, it is clear that vulnerable Portlanders need access to cooling systems.
Throughout the months following the 2021 extreme heat event, the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) staff gathered input from community partners and worked with the PCEF Grant Committee to develop and design a five-year program to connect vulnerable low-income Portlanders with efficient portable heat pump/cooling devices, in alignment with Portland City Code Chapter 7.07 (i.e., PCEF Code).
Initial program goals
The following original program goals were defined at the beginning of the Cooling Portland: A PCEF-funded climate resilience program:
Reduce heat related risk to vulnerable populations by distributing and installing portable heat pump/cooling units in households, prioritizing those with seniors among PCEF priority populations (low-income people and people of color).
Use PCEF Guiding Principles in design and deployment.
Begin distribution in May/June 2022 with implementation taking place over a period of up to 5 years to distribute up to 15,000 portable heat pump/cooling units.
Promote energy efficient installation and use, as well as connection to programs that lower energy bills.
Provide support that maintains product life, efficient operation, and usability.
Read our Year 1, 2022 report:
Eligibility and vulnerable populations
PCEF seeks to provide life-saving and efficient portable heat pump/cooling equipment to Portland’s low-income residents, prioritizing those most vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat fueled by climate change.
In order to be eligible to receive a cooling unit, a recipient must live in the City of Portland, and have an income that is 60% or less of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size. View a chart of income and household size thresholds:
For the distribution of efficient portable heat pump/cooling equipment in the Cooling Portland program, people who are most at risk are being prioritized by distribution partners. Vulnerable populations are defined as those who are people with low incomes and who are also have two or more of the following risk factors:
- Are over 60 years of age.
- Have medical conditions that increase risk of heat-related illness.
- Are living alone.
Additional risk factors related to type of housing and the intersection with vulnerable groups may be used to identify households for distribution of equipment during program implementation.
Program partners and roles
Equipment Purchasing Partner: Earth Advantage
Role in the Cooling Portland Program
Earth Advantage was selected by the PCEF committee and approved by the Portland City Council to serve as the manager of program implementation. They are tasked with identifying high-efficiency heat pump and air conditioning units, purchasing and warehousing those units, and effectively distributing them to the community distribution partners (CDPs). In addition, Earth Advantage contractually manages the CDPs in order to ensure the timely, and accurate installation of units in the homes of vulnerable community members.
Information about the current number of cooling units installed can be found on their program dashboard.
About Earth Advantage
Earth Advantage® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on helping to create an informed and humane residential real estate marketplace that:
- Acknowledges both the climate impacts of housing and the impact climate has on housing;
- Provides all homebuyers and renters with access to sustainability-related information about a home;
- Supports equitable housing outcomes, protecting those most vulnerable from the effects of climate change, and; Recognizes both the personal and societal value that climate-friendly housing creates.
Earth Advantage's team is located across five states with a headquarters in downtown Portland, Oregon in the PAE Living Building. The organization’s commitment to carbon reduction strategies is demonstrated by the 17,000+ individuals who have participated in Earth Advantage training, the approximately 4,000 high-performance residential units certified each year by our green building team, the 30,000+ homes with a verified Home Energy Score, and the over 2 million homes contained in our Green Building Registry.
Community Distribution Partners
The Community Distribution Partners (CDPs) in the Cooling Portland Program are responsible for identifying and prioritizing recipients, scheduling delivery, installing cooling units, and providing educational materials. There are two categories of CDPs that are providing services in the program:
- Organization that are housing providers
- Community-based organizations that provide services other than housing
The CDP applications can be found on our application page.
Questions about the program?
You may contact us about this program at cleanenergyfund@portlandoregon….
To ask about a cooling unit, please see our page How to request a cooling unit