The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners took its latest step on March 9 to ensure that the County has an important tool to help meet its goals of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to clean energy sources. The unanimously approved resolution authorizes County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson to execute an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Prosper Portland for the administration of the PropertyFit program for five more years.
This action came at the request of the Multnomah County Office of Sustainability, which had previously briefed the Board in December 2022 with an update on progress made toward the County’s climate goals, including:
- 100% renewable electricity by 2035
- 80% reductions in local carbon emissions by 2050
- 25% reduction in total energy use of all pre-2010 buildings by 2030
- Net-zero emissions in all new buildings and homes by 2030.
The PropertyFit program offers industrial, commercial, and multifamily residential property owners long-term financing, using private capital, for up to 100% of the cost of capital improvements that reduce energy consumption or generate energy, effectively reducing the risk between the two parties, explained Silvia Tanner, Senior Energy Policy and Legal Analyst for the Office of Sustainability.
“Those more favorable terms can help address some barriers that we see,” said Tanner. According to Tanner, the barriers PropertyFit helps to address include split incentives between property owners who pay for energy upgrades and renters who pay the power bills and the ability to secure the debt against the real property and transfer the loan with the sale.
The PropertyFit program is actually the locally branded implementation of the state’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE), said Sustainability Director John Wasiutynski, made possible by a partnership between Multnomah County, Prosper Portland and the Energy Trust of Oregon. Oregon is not alone in having a program, CPACE programs are found in 38 states and Washington, DC, according to industry group PACE Nation. The roots of the program in Multnomah County stretch back to 2015, when the original IGA was approved, and 2017, when the program officially rolled out. Since then, the program has gone through numerous transformations and additions of amendments to simplify and adjust the IGA.
The new IGA incorporates the learnings from over seven years of successful partnerships with Prosper Portland and allows for ongoing program evolution and innovation.
“What we’re doing today is we’re taking all those amendments, we’re rationalizing them, we’re simplifying the IGA and we’re extending it for another five years,” said Wasiutynski.
PropertyFit can be attributed to six transactions closed to date, totaling over $13.6 million, one of which is the PAE Living Building, the largest living building project in the world. This commercial building was able to use the County’s program and invest in energy efficiency, water conservation, renewable energy and seismic improvements. Prosper Portland estimates that about $40 million in additional transactions are close to completion, signaling that the program is picking up traction in the commercial real estate market.
“This program has matured. We’re seeing other counties following in our lead now and adopting their own programs,” said Wasiutynski about the program’s success.
“I’m really excited about this partnership. It’s a signal to the investment community that we’re going to do everything we can to meet our climate goals, but also help the economy recover from the pandemic.”
“I’m so glad it’s picking up steam because we need to get more folks engaged in this work to meet our climate goals,” Chair Vega Pederson said in closing.