About the Home Energy Score policy and program

Why Portland created a Home Energy Score policy and how this will help Portland reach its climate goals.

Why a Home Energy Score Policy?

Scores, labels and ratings are a regular part of how we communicate information. We consult miles-per-gallon ratings on cars, nutrition labels on food, and Energy Guide labels on appliances to make informed consumer decisions. However, consumer labeling for homes is inconsistent and unavailable in most real estate markets. In 2017, less than two percent of Portland’s 160,000 single-family homes, had a Home Energy Score,

The commercial buildings market has been quicker to adopt benchmarking practices. In 2015, Portland City Council adopted mandatory energy benchmarking and disclosure for large commercial buildings. More than 1,000 buildings report and disclose energy performance annually. The Home Energy Score Ordinance is a companion to the commercial policy.

Home energy scores are a market-based solution for conveying previously unknown but critical information to both buyers and sellers of homes. When homeowners invest in improving the energy efficiency of their homes, those costs may be recouped as scores translate into a value that can be recognized by the market. A recent analysis that included over 20 studies worldwide of homes with green certifications demonstrated that green-certified homes sell for up to four percent higher than a comparable home.

Reaching climate action goals and protecting consumers

Voluntary efforts to date are a step in the right direction; however, we cannot achieve the 2015 Climate Action Plan goal to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 unless we significantly accelerate energy efficiency and renewable energy activities in the residential sector. Residential buildings contribute nearly half of the emissions from buildings.

Local government plays a critical role in making it easier for people to save energy, protect against rising energy prices in the future and reduce carbon pollution. Requiring home energy scores is one of the policy tools the City has available to catalyze change in the residential sector.

Beyond lower energy bills and greater housing affordability, energy-efficient homes are more comfortable and livable. The indoor air quality of these homes is better, leading to healthier lives. Home energy scores afford consumers a measure of protection when making one of the biggest financial investments most people ever make.

Policy process

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability led a policy development process throughout 2016 that resulted in the adoption of Portland City Code Chapter 17.108: Residential Energy Performance Rating and Disclosure. After three City Council hearings and several amendments, Portland City Council unanimously adopted the Home Energy Score Ordinance on December 14, 2016.

In developing the policy, BPS staff researched best practices from cities around the U.S. and other countries. Staff interviewed experts who have studied and analyzed home energy disclosure policies. BPS consulted with a range of local stakeholders, including representatives from the real-estate industry, energy efficiency and home performance industry, energy efficiency advocates, equity organizations representing low-income homeowners, communities of color, tenants and advocates for homeownership and affordable housing, as well as with regular Portlanders.