Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 72.47
Liaison Jenny McNamara
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Portland State University
IN-25: Innovation B

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Amanda Wolf
Program + Assessment Coordinator
Campus Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Small Backyard Homes: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

The Institute for Sustainable Solutions is spearheading an initiative to make it easier and more affordable for Portland homeowners to construct a second house on their property—increasing housing options in a city with some of the fastest rising rents and lowest vacancy rates in the nation.

Called “accessory dwelling units” or ADUs, these small backyard homes can be used by family members or rented out to others in the community. They provide more affordable housing options while reducing pollutants that cause climate change.

The Institute is working with city agencies, architects, financial institutions, low-income housing providers, and others to develop a simple, affordable, ready-to-go solution for homeowners interested in building an ADU.

Our Small Backyard Homes Initiative is focused on:
-Reducing construction costs (most Portland ADUs currently cost about $170,000)
-Increasing financing options
-Supporting systems to use ADUs as affordable housing
-Streamlining the processes for designing, financing, permitting, and constructing ADUs
-Assuring there are enough qualified general contractors and builders
-Addressing the concerns and issues homeowners have about being landlords

Community benefits of ADUs
ADUs provide additional housing in existing urban spaces while retaining neighborhood characteristics. Their small size (typically 400-800 sq. ft.) makes them more affordable than standard size homes.

Specifically, ADUs offer:
-a means of making a standard size house more affordable by providing rental income to the homeowner.
-a way for aging family members to live near children or other relatives.
increased options for affordable housing providers.
-an alternative or supplement to the development of large apartment buildings.

Environmental benefits of ADUs
ADUs help reduce carbon dioxide and other pollutants that cause climate change by increasing urban density and requiring fewer natural resources to build and operate than a standard sized home. About 25 percent of greenhouse gas pollutants result from driving—ADUs reduce the need for driving because they increase housing options in urban areas where walking, biking, and public transit are more convenient. And because ADUs are generally smaller than typical single-family homes, they use fewer natural resources to build and less energy to heat and cool.

Next Steps
During 2016–17, the Institute for Sustainable Solutions is convening cross-sector groups that include PSU faculty and students to find ways to overcome obstacles to constructing ADUs in Portland. The Institute aims to test those solutions by assisting homeowners and others with the construction of 200 ADUs during 2017 and 2018. The ultimate goal is to create systems and practices that make it easier for people who want an ADU on their property to build them.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Public Engagement

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.