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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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Bucks for Buildings

old building in old town

Bucks for Buildings Update (as of May 17, 2013)

  • Bucks for Buildings rebates were provided through a one-time federal grant and at this time there are no plans to re-open the rebate at a future time.



Bucks for Buildings Project Design Overview

Commercial building owners and tenants in Portland received rebates up to 50 percent off the cost of qualifying energy efficiency upgrades.  Non-profit organizations were eligible for rebates up to 75 percent off the cost of qualifying upgrades.

The City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability created this rebate program with funding through a grant from the US Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program. This program grew out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is helping over 40 competitively selected state and local governments develop sustainable programs to upgrade the energy efficiency of more than 100,000 buildings.

The City reserved the right to use its discretion to ensure that funding is equitably distributed to reach underserved neighborhoods and businesses. The City also reserved the right to limit the number of rebates given to each contractor to ensure a diverse range of contractors have access to this funding opportunity.


Eligibility Criteria

  • Available to owners and tenants of existing, privately-owned commercial buildings located within Portland city limits and  50,000 square feet or less in total size. Excluded buildings undergoing major renovations.
  • Eligible improvements included insulation, heating and cooling equipment, lighting, lighting controls and foodservice equipment that meet or exceed Energy Trust of Oregon or Energy Star® efficiency standards.  Excludes self-installed equipment.
  • Rebates were available from $1,000 to $30,000 per project.
  • The Bucks for Buildings rebate and applicable incentives from the Energy Trust of Oregon could not exceed 100 percent of project cost.
  • Improvements had to be made by a contractor that is a Trade Ally of Energy Trust of Oregon and that has registered with Bucks for Buildings.

How it Worked

  1. Assess. Determine what energy efficiency upgrades are needed at your building.  Sign up for a free energy assessment  from the City of Portland (optional) or have a Trade Ally contractor  help you determine what upgrades you need.
  2. Select a Contractor. Select a contractor to perform your energy efficiency upgrades and have them register with the Bucks for Buildings rebate program before your project begins (contractor must be a Trade Ally of the Energy of Oregon to qualify).
  3. Sign.  Once you agree on a project scope with your contractor, sign your contractor’s Bid and a Utility Release Form, which allows the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to evaluate the effectiveness of this program.  Your bid should specify the total project cost, the Bucks for Buildings rebate amount and the amount of applicable Energy Trust of Oregon incentives.  Your contractor may require a down-payment for a portion of the bid not covered by the Bucks for Buildings rebate.
  4. Reserve. Your contractor will submit your Signed Bid to confirm your place in line and reserve the Bucks for Building rebate for your project (subject to funds availability). 
  5. Upgrade. Your contractor will install the energy efficiency improvements. When the project is complete you will be responsible for paying the balance of the project cost not covered by the Bucks for Building rebate.
  6. Rebate. Your contractor will submit your Final Paid Invoice to the Bucks for Building program and we will pay the rebate directly to them.


Frequently Asked Questions 


How was the rebate calculated?

The rebate was awarded at 50 percent of eligible project costs (75 percent for non-profits) up to $30,000 per project, while funds lasted.

Was an assessment required?


Was it possible to receive rebates for more than one building?


Was the rebate eligible for multifamily properties including condos and apartments?

No, multifamily buildings were not eligible. Assistance is available from the Energy Trust of Oregon . 

Was the rebate eligible for schools and churches?


Was the rebate eligible for home offices?

No, residential properties were not eligible. Assistance is available from Clean Energy Works Oregon . 

Was the rebate eligible for new construction or major renovations?

No, the rebate is only available to existing buildings for equipment upgrades and weatherization improvements. Assistance is available from Energy Trust of Oregon  and the Regional Green Building Hotline .

Was the rebate eligible for parking lot or parking garage lighting upgrades?


Was the rebate eligible for solar photovoltaic systems or green roofs?



Better Buildings USDOE