From floods and natural disasters to the loss of iconic animals like the polar bear, climate change can feel like a problem too big to tackle. That hasn’t stopped Portland, which was the first city in the nation to develop a Climate Action Plan 25 years ago. Since then, we’ve made significant progress in reducing emissions, doing our part to slow down climate change.
Our company is proud to provide Home Energy Scores for Portland homes — not just because they help home buyers make informed choices and reduce energy costs, but they are also helping the planet! Read on to learn about five ways, including Home Energy Scores, that Portland taking on the climate change challenge.
- Declaring a Climate Emergency. This resolution passed by Portland City Council in June 2020 uses an “equity-focused approach” to strengthen the city’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions while addressing the ways that BIPOC communities are disproportionately affected by climate change. The Climate Emergency Declaration also set a new target for carbon emissions — 50% below its 1990 emissions level by 2030 — and asks Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp, our two electric utilities, to deliver renewable energy to all Portland residents and businesses by 2030.
- Growing the Urban Forest. Trees are great for absorbing carbon dioxide — up to 48 pounds per year — and they also function to cool the streets. Portland is a Tree City, USA with a canopy cover ranging from 20-50% and growing. According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, every year Portland plants 3,300 trees and gives away hundreds of free trees to property owners. In 2020, the plan is to give away a record-setting 1,200 trees.
- Making Homes and Buildings More Efficient. A Multnomah County study found that 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the Portland area come from energy used to run, heat and cool residential buildings. With an older housing stock not built for efficiency, there’s a huge need to upgrade these homes if Portland wants to meet its emissions-reductions goals. Unfortunately, there was never a market-based incentive for this to happen, until Portland created the Home Energy Score program. Unique in the Pacific Northwest, the Home Energy Score gives home buyers the means to compare homes based on their energy efficiency. As a result, Portlanders now have an incentive — and a convenient report outlining recommended improvements — to make their homes more energy efficient.
- Green Energy. While homeowners can use the Home Energy Score to reduce the amount of energy their homes must consume, there is always going to be some need for power to keep the lights on. So Portland is determined to make that energy as green and renewable as possible. Already, City operations run off 100% renewable energy, and the two electric utilities are making major investments in wind and solar energy generation. One example is the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility, expected to go online in 2020. Its eventual capacity of 380 megawatts could power up to 247,000 homes.
- Cars Off the Road. Transportation accounts for the largest chunk of carbon emissions for Portland, a whopping 42%. Even though Portland has a great public transit system, it seems that more people still prefer to drive. This may change as city managers regularly reject freeway expansions in favor of new light rail lines and better pedestrian amenities. Much of Metro’s future plans for transportation systems improvements hinge on the approval of a $5 billion investment in infrastructure, deemed Get Moving 2020. Portland voters will decide on the measure in the upcoming election.
Not everyone can switch to commuting by public transit, put up solar panels, or even plant a tree, but every homeowner can improve their home’s efficiency. The first step is to order a Home Energy Score assessment, a thorough review of your home’s performance. Schedule online with us today!