Which homes are required to get a Home Energy Score?

portland home energy score requirement check

Getting the Home Energy Score ordinance passed was the easy part for City of Portland planners. Convincing everyone that yes, it is a requirement, is a bit trickier.

According to an article that appeared in the Oregonian last week, many new listings that appeared on the Portland regional MLS since the first of the year have not included the required score. Home buyers who expected the convenience of being able to do side-by-side comparisons of homes’ energy efficiency were disappointed.

Whether you’re listing a home for sale this year or looking to buy a home in the Portland area, here’s a quick guide.

How to tell if a home is required to have a Home Energy Score

  1. Is the home within Portland city limits? To find out, go to PortlandMaps.com and enter your address (or the address of the home listing you’re checking out). A property summary will appear on the right side of the screen. About halfway down the list is “Jurisdiction”. This tells you what city and county have jurisdiction over the property (or just county if it’s not within the limits of any city). If that line reads “Portland”, this home is required to have a home energy score — unless it doesn’t meet the “covered building” requirement.
  2. Is the home considered a covered building? The Portland Home Energy Score ordinance defines a “covered building” as any home on its own lot with both a foundation and a roof. Falling within this definition are regular detached homes, townhomes, duplexes, and other attached homes. High-rise condo units are not considered a “covered building” and do not have to get a score. Accessory dwelling units, houseboats, mobile homes and trailers are also not considered covered buildings (this includes covered wagons).

The full text of the ordinance is available on the City of Portland’s website. The “covered building” definition can be found on Page 3.

Why do some homes have a home energy score, when it’s not required?

Some home sellers outside the City of Portland jurisdiction are choosing to order a home energy score despite the fact that the law doesn’t require them to. Why would they do that?

A home energy score rating can be a powerful marketing tool. It’s a hard one to pass up for some home sellers with energy efficiency improvements that otherwise would not be adequately described in the real estate listing. Because Portland’s real estate market is competitive, buyers are often looking at homes across the region, and rarely limit their search to city limits. For example, a buyer interested in a home in West Portland may also consider Beaverton, which is its own municipality that doesn’t yet have a home energy score requirement. In order to adequately compare and contrast two homes that may only be a mile or two apart, they need a home energy score for both.

Our team serves homeowners across the greater Portland metro region. If you’re still not sure whether you need to order a home energy score, give us a quick call and we’ll help you find out.