Portland Leads On Climate – Again!

Scores, labels and ratings — they’re all 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. But consumer labeling for homes have been inconsistent and unavailable in most real estate markets. Not so anymore for the Portland market. Yesterday Mayor Hales’ office announced that the Portland City Council has adopted a new Home Energy Score Policy to reduce both utility bills carbon emissions. The new policy will provide sellers and buyers with valuable information on energy use, energy costs and home improvements.

Home energy scores are a market-based solution for conveying previously unknown but critical information. 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. This new policy is a key example of how Portland is continuing to lead on climate; taking home energy efficiency into account will reduce our city’s carbon footprint, and is another component of the city’s Climate Action Plan.

OEC Emerging Leaders Board member and local realtor, JJ Green of Rastler-Green Team, helps explain why this policy is good for buyers, sellers and the community as a whole:

“As a Realtor, I’m sworn to a code of ethics that requires I pledge myself to protect and promote the interests of my clients, and while this plan creates some additional burden for me as a realtor, overall, I see this as a clear win for my clients. As with any plan, there are upsides and downsides. I see this from many angles: how will this impact buyers? Sellers? The community?

Buyers: Most buyers are payment sensitive — meaning, keeping an affordable monthly cost-of-living is the most important financial constraint when purchasing a home. This is especially true for those shopping in more affordable price-points. I coach my buyers that while mortgages are mostly fixed, their property taxes, home insurance costs and utility costs will likely rise, making these extra important to ensuring their homeownership experience is affordable for them. I know that buyers want this information as I am always asked about energy-related features. When I sell a home with excellent HES score or other obvious positive energy attributes, I market that big time, and it works. Because buyers will pay more for a property that costs them less.

Many of my clients are also aware of reducing their individual natural resource consumption and contribution to climate change. A score will help them benchmark their purchase and ongoing ownership on these fronts from purchase through to sale.

Sellers: This policy does increase complexity and cost to an expensive and stressful process of selling one’s home. However, many realtors will absorb this cost and effort as a value-added service they can provide.

The Community: The citizens of Portland are dedicated to creating and sharing climate solutions. Given recent events nationally, the local community is especially motivated to create local climate solutions. This solution rewards voluntary individual investments to reduce dependence on limited energy sources and limit carbon output through installation of energy efficiency measures. These measures create living-wage jobs. They reduce overall demand for resources. They in turn, reduce overall community demand for resources and build community resilience and affordability for all. For these reasons I heartily embrace this plan. It is important that we encourage and accelerate household decisions to benefit the broader community whenever, however and wherever possible.”

Oregon Environmental Council is proud to have supported this policy, and thankful for the many people who showed up the day before Thanksgiving to testify in support of it! By continuing to take local action, one policy at a time, Oregon will be known for meaningful advancements in climate action that can be emulated in other cities across the country. In this way, we can make a difference locally — and far beyond.

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2 Replies to "Portland Leads On Climate - Again!"

  • Carolyn Gastellum
    January 3, 2017 (4:13 pm)

    Thanks for this good article. Congratulations on this success! I hope this policy idea spreads to other states asap.

    • Devon Downeysmith
      January 6, 2017 (6:35 am)

      Thank you! We certainly hope that these types of local policies can be a model for other cities and states to follow!