Portland Adopts Home Energy Score Policy

Tue, 2017-05-09 09:47

Last Updated: 2017-09-06 11:09

The Portland City Council unanimously voted to adopt the “home energy score policy” in 2016 with an expected effective date of January 1, 2018. This policy aligns with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score program and requires an on-site home energy audit from an approved Home Energy Score Assessor.

If you’re new to the concept of home energy auditing and want a better understanding of what goes into a home energy audit, please visit our Energy Auditor Training page.

If you are a home inspector, HVAC contractor, or another residential profession, keep reading or jump to our section about How to Become a Home Energy Score Assessor.

About the Portland Home Energy Score Policy

The policy requires sellers of single-family homes to incorporate the following practices prior to listing a home for sale in the City of Portland:

  • Obtain a home energy performance report, including a home energy score, from a licensed home energy assessor.
  • Provide a copy of the home energy performance report to all licensed real estate agents working on the seller’s behalf.
  • Include the home energy score and the attached home energy performance report in any real estate listings.
  • Provide a copy of the home energy performance report to prospective buyers who visit the home while it is on the market.
  • Provide a copy of the home energy performance report to the City of Portland for quality assurance and policy compliance.

Click here to view the home energy score policy, which is also called the Portland City Code Chapter 17.108.

The Value of a Home Energy Score Policy

Requiring a home energy score at the time of sale will help homebuyers, sellers, and owners make informed decisions about energy efficiency improvements.

As the City of Portland notes, consumers regularly consult scores and labels, such as miles-per-gallon ratings on cars and nutrition labels on food, to make informed decisions. The same process could be conducted for real estate decisions.

grading scale for houses image

The home energy policy equates a visible property value to the energy efficiency improvements that homeowners have made to a home; otherwise, homebuyers would no way of knowing or understanding the before and after conditions of the home in question.

At least 20 studies of homes with green certifications have shown that green-certified homes sell for up to 4% higher than a comparable home. Why is this? Homebuyers are willing to spend a little more for green-certified homes because they know that they can expect lower energy bills, better thermal comfort, and better indoor air quality.

How It Works

The U.S. Department of Energy created the Home Energy Score tool to represent the energy efficiency of a home. The Home Energy Score tool provides the energy data to create the home energy performance report. Specifically, the report includes a numerical score from 1-10, where 10 represents a more energy-efficient home and 5 is the performance of the average home. This number provides an easy-to-understand reference point for the comparison of energy performance between single-family homes.

The Home Energy Score is considered an asset rating, which means that the score is based on how the home was built, not how the home is used. An asset rating looks at the structural characteristics and large equipment in a building. After conducting an on-site home inspection, a Home Energy Score Assessor will be able to create a home energy performance report that identifies cost-effective energy efficiency improvements, opportunities for more energy savings, opportunities to improve comfort, and opportunities to improve indoor air quality.

How to Become a Home Energy Score Assessor

To become a Home Energy Score Assessor, and take advantage of new business earned through this policy, you will need to:

  • Work with a Home Energy Score Partner
  • Hold a relevant energy auditor certification
  • Complete the Home Energy Score Simulation Training & Test
  • Score a home with a mentor

Working with a Home Energy Score Partner

Home Energy Score Partners include various types of organizations (utilities, state agencies, local governments, non-profits, contractor associations, etc.) that administer the delivery of the Score on a local, state, or national basis.

There are five partners available in Oregon:

  • American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)
  • Building Performance Institute (BPI)
  • Eugene Water & Electric Board
  • International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)
  • Oregon Department of Energy

ASHI, BPI, and InterNACHI are all national partners. Eugene Water & Electric Board serves Eugene, OR and the surrounding McKenzie River area. Oregon Department of Energy serves the state of Oregon.

Holding a Relevant Energy Auditor Certification

The Department of Energy (DOE) lists a variety of relevant credentials that will be accepted for the energy auditor certification requirement, including RESNET HERS Rater, CalCERTS Rater, and LEED Green Rater.

The certifications that make the most sense to acquire are probably going to be ASHI Inspector, InterNACHI Home Energy Inspector, and BPI Building Analyst Certification. These particular credentials:

  • satisfy the Home Energy Score Assessor requirement
  • are available in Portland, and
  • are recognized nationwide

BPI, specifically, was DOE’s first nationwide Home Energy Score Partner. If you’re familiar with the BPI energy auditor certifications, you know that there are several single-family designations. The Home Energy Score program will accept a minimum of the BPI Building Science Principles certificate. Since the Building Science Principles program does not take participants into the field to perform a hands-on home energy audit, it would be better for a candidate to pursue the next level of certification, which is BPI Building Analyst. With the BPI Building Analyst training, you learn about residential building science and home energy auditing techniques.

Everblue offers BPI Building Analyst training courses in the Portland area to help individuals prepare for this policy. Call us now at 800-460-2575 if you'd like to join the training.

Completing the Home Energy Score Simulation Training and Test

After you earn the BPI Building Analyst Certification, you’ll need to complete a BPI Rater Application. DOE will then email a welcome packet with instructions on how to access the Home Energy Score Simulation Training and Test.

During this process, a candidate will learn how to use the DOE Home Energy Score software tool to generate a home score and a prioritized list of recommended energy improvements (with estimated cost savings tailored to the customer’s home).

The training consists of three practice/challenge homes. A candidate must score at least 80 or better to move onto the two test homes. On the testing portion, a candidate must score at least 90 or better on the test homes and a score of at least 80 or better on the 20-question multiple-choice test.

Scoring a Home with a Mentor

To comply with DOE’s Quality Assurance protocols, all candidates are required to have a building science professional (mentor) accompany them on their first walk through of a home being scored. A BPI Client Relations Representative (CRR) will contact the approved assessor to coordinate one home as a mentoring session.

Home Energy Score Assessors must upload all information into the DOE website.

If a candidate chooses to go with BPI Certification, he/she can expect for BPI to track their progress with the Home Energy Score program. A BPI rater will need to renew their status annually. Raters in good standing are not required to re-take the Home Energy Score exams.

Commercial & Residential Energy Legislation in Portland

In 2015, the Portland City Council took a step forward on the commercial real estate side, by adopting mandatory energy benchmarking and disclosure. The home energy score policy will soon act as a residential companion to the commercial reporting.

Several U.S. cities have passed similar disclosure policies for the homes market, including Austin, TX; Berkeley, CA; Santa Fe, NM; and Boulder, CO. Internationally, residential disclosure policies are currently in effect in the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Australia.

If you’d like to qualify as a Home Energy Score Assessor and gain new business in Portland, we can help you by providing the BPI Building Analyst training. You can also call us at 800-460-2575 to discuss the BPI Building Analyst training in more detail.