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Call for nominations: BIG! Home Tour

BPS E-News Issue 10

Do you have a new or remodeled home (funky, traditional, high tech, historic – we like it all) with green features you’d like to have considered for the Tenth Annual Build It Green! Home Tour? This tour is Saturday, September 24th. 

Send an e-mail with your contact info to Valerie Garrett, tour coordinator to receive an online nomination form when they are available mid-March.

From your Regional Green Building Hotline: Old buildings work very well, thank you

BPS E-News Issue 10

Old buildings are rich, working reminders of the past that shaped us and also provide unique opportunities for innovative preservation and retrofit.  We can preserve our region’s architectural heritage by adapting and rehabilitating for today’s needs and future uses. Looking through lenses of sustainability, reuse, conservation and historic preservation we find ways of conserving precious resources, preserving our buildings and job creation and retention.

Living wage construction preservation jobs require training and skills and cannot be outsourced.  These job types include deconstruction, restoration, salvage, period reproduction, manufacturing and adaptive reuse as well as the trades like carpentry, plumbing and weatherization.  

Historic homes and commercial structures were often built with materials and detailing that is not economically feasible today, or the construction skills have now been lost.  Building materials include old growth fir, cast iron storefronts, terracotta façade detailing, massive solid wood beams, and wavy window glass.  Respecting and celebrating these materials and craftsmanship ensures diverse streetscapes, creates living architectural laboratories and community livability.

What is Embodied energy?  Why should you care?

Embodied energy is the total of all the energy required to grow, harvest, extract, manufacture, refine, process, package, transport, install and dispose of a product or building material. When a building is demolished with no plans for reclamation, this energy that was paid for by past generations is lost. Reusing an existing building or its components, having a recycling plan in place and educating sub-contractors on the jobsite to recycle and minimize waste all contribute to a high waste reduction and reuse goal.  

Portland is home to several commercial buildings that have been adapted and restored and now garnering high office and event space rents:  Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center, Mercy Corps Global Headquarters, The LeftBank Project, Gerding Theater at the Armory, Morgan Building and White Stag Block.  

Healthy, connected neighborhoods, also known as “twenty-minute neighborhoods,” aim for compact communities where amenities like schools, places of worship and retail are located within a walking, biking or wheelchair distance of twenty minutes.  It is a component of smart growth.  Older neighborhoods developed before the popularity of automobiles have diversity and density from varied small local business and community uses.  Retail storefronts in low-scale buildings are interwoven alongside homes, apartments, schools and libraries.  Some old Portland neighborhoods featuring compact development include Hawthorne-Belmont, Alberta Arts, St. Johns, Kenton, Multnomah Village and North Mississippi Avenue.

Want to know more?

Visit the Regional Green Building Hotline’s new Sustainable Preservation page at

The Regional Green Building Hotline provides comprehensive green building resources and technical info for Metro region and is sponsored by the following partners: Metro, Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Washington County and the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Call 503-823-5431 or visit for free assistance with your questions about green building.

Enhancing community: Urban Food Zoning Code connects you to local food

BPS E-News Issue 10

It’s no secret that Portlanders love their food. Whether from a farmers market, a community or backyard garden, one of the many established or innovative new restaurants, a neighborhood grocery store or a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm, we have many opportunities to enjoy the bounty of our region. This fertile environment for producing and sharing food has raised some questions about the zoning code and whether it still serves the interests and values of the community.

The Urban Food Zoning Code Update is the City of Portland’s first comprehensive look at how zoning code regulations affect traditional and emerging ways of producing and distributing food. Through a dynamic community discussion, this project will establish zoning code regulations that support Portlanders’ access to healthy food, at farmers markets and community gardens for example, while ensuring that surrounding neighborhoods are protected from impacts such as noise, traffic and pollutants.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is working collaboratively with the Portland-Multnomah County Food Policy Council, which has studied zoning barriers for food production and distribution for many years. Together, we are leading a Project Advisory Group (PAG) that will help develop project proposals and engage the larger community. The first PAG meetings in January and February have focused on five topic areas:

  • Urban Food Production
  • Community Gardens
  • Farmers Markets
  • Community Food Distribution Sites
  • Animals and Bees

Multnomah County has awarded a Community Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant to BPS and Oregon Public Health Institute (OPHI). These funds will help to ensure health and equity are considered in this project and that decisions related to urban food production and distribution maximize public health benefits.

Join us for food code discussions

The next PAG meeting will review the summaries from these topic-area discussions and prepare for a citywide public review of the issues and possible solutions in April and May. PAG meetings are open to the public, and announcements and agendas are posted at:


How to Stay Informed

  • Get on the project mailing list for updates and announcements.

  • Follow our project news RSS feed.

  • Visit the project website for updates and public review opportunities.

  • Participate in or follow the discussions of the Project Advisory Group.

Project Contacts

Julia Gisler, Process Manager/Public Involvement
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

Steve Cohen, Food Policy and Programs
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

City Council accepting comments on Citywide Tree Project until March 9

BPS E-News Issue 10

A "natural capital asset," Portland's trees provide benefits worth millions of dollars per year, and their replacement value is roughly $5 billion, according to a recent Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau study. Other studies show that neighborhood trees can increase home resale values, lower crime rates and improve physical and mental health.

In response to neighborhood concerns about the state of Portland's tree rules and loss of trees to development, the Portland City Council launched the Citywide Tree Project in 2007.

Working closely with community stakeholders for more than three years, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability led a multi-bureau effort to review and revamp the existing rules for trees.

Last year, the Portland Planning Commission and Urban Forestry Commission held a public hearing on an initial draft proposal. The commissions heard broad community support for stronger tree protection and replacement requirements. And developers expressed concern about the potential impact of the rules on project cost and housing affordability.

The two commissions subsequently worked with City bureaus to further hone and streamline the proposal. As a result, the proposal before the City Council:

  • Consolidates the City's tree rules into a single new code title, which makes them easier to find, understand and administer.

  • Strengthens tree preservation and planting requirements the City applies when new development is proposed.

  • Includes specific exemptions and added flexibility to minimize development costs and make it easier to preserve trees on development sites.

  • Standardizes and streamlines the existing tree permit system to encourage retention of large healthy trees where practical, and to ensure that larger trees are replaced when removed anywhere in the city.

  • Provides for enhanced customer service through a single point of contact for public inquiries and permit processing, a 24-hour tree hotline and a community tree manual.

On Feb. 2, 2011, the Portland City Council launched a public hearing on the Citywide Tree Project Recommended Draft (dated December 2010). At the hearing, Council heard extensive testimony from Portland residents, neighborhood representatives, developer representatives, community organizations and public agencies. Mayor Sam Adams, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, and City staff introduced a number of amendments to the proposal as well.

City Council is still accepting public testimony on the draft and proposed amendments until Wednesday, March 9 at 2 p.m., when they will continue the hearing and consider amendments to the proposal.

The draft proposal, proposed amendments, written testimony and instructions for how to testify are posted at

If you have questions about the Citywide Tree Project or proposed amendments please contact Roberta Jortner (503) 823-7855, Morgan Tracy (503) 823-6879, or Stephanie Beckman (503) 823-6042.

Creating new opportunities: Growing and distributing healthy food

BPS E-News Issue 10

The Food Policy Program has a full plate, as you can see by the articles elsewhere in this issue on our Urban Growth Bounty series and food zoning code review. In addition to city planning for better access and educational outreach, we continue to work with residents and businesses to create new opportunities for growing and distributing food. Good health is a cornerstone of sustainability and expanding our options for good food improves personal, environmental and economic health.
One notable project is a partnership with Mercy Corp Northwest's Agriculture Project. Nepalese refugees from Bhutan are growing a wide range of organic vegetable crops on city-owned land that had not been used for more than five years. The families are growing food for personal use and selling their produce to Reed College and farm shares through their own Growers Alliance CSA (community-supported agriculture). If you’re interested in a share (pickups are in Sellwood/Brooklyn and Old Town), contact them at 503-896-5076.

In addition to helping urban residents grow their own food, BPS builds awareness of the importance of supporting local farmers and provides technical assistance farmers markets and CSA farms. Several new farmers markets will open this year and you will find them (and a complete list of CSA farms) at

If your group is interested in hearing more about food’s role in our lives, we’d be happy to schedule a speaker. Call Steve Cohen, 503-823-4225 for details.