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Kyle Diesner: BPS Climate Action Team member and so much more

A new installment in our series on BPS employees

Kyle Diesner, BPSIt’s Climate Action Plan season here at BPS, and we’re thrilled to have recently released the 2015 draft plan for public comment. This plan features two new focus areas -- advancing equity through climate action and a new consumption inventory -- which reflect innovative new research and extensive community engagement. From the benefits of low-carbon food choices to the need for more sidewalks in East Portland, the 2015 CAP is a pretty engaging read.

But who are the smart and passionate folks who have labored for more than two years to get this plan into the hands of the community? We’d like to introduce you to one of the key players, Kyle Diesner: BPS Policy Analyst, tireless equity advocate and chief consumption expert.

Kyle came to BPS (then, the Office of Sustainable Development) in 2003. Fresh out of college with a degree in Environmental Science, he joined the Multifamily (Weatherization) Assistance Program. As a volunteer, he spent his first few days copying hundreds of program files.  “Everyone has to start somewhere!” said Kyle. “The program was a great fit with my background in energy and my passion for equity.” After a stint at Ecos Consulting, Kyle rejoined OSD, because of the organization’s mission and workplace culture. His work with the BPS Multifamily Team resulted in energy efficiency improvements in tens of thousands of apartments.

Now Kyle has the opportunity to work on all kinds of projects, primarily climate, energy and social equity initiatives. One current project is a collaboration with the Northwest Solar Communities, which is a coalition of jurisdictions, utilities, industry partners and citizen groups working together to make rooftop solar electricity more cost effective for all.

Making the connection between climate and consumption

But Kyle is especially proud of his work on Portland’s 2015 Climate Action Plan, a roadmap for the City of Portland and Multnomah County to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This plan builds on previous plans with new actions to advance equity and analysis around the consumption-based carbon inventory. This kind of inventory models global emissions produced when Multnomah County consumers purchase things made in other parts of the world.

The consumption-based inventory is near and dear to Kyle’s heart. Consider many products found in the home: A shirt, cell phone, TV or chair. It’s likely that they were manufactured in Asia where there are far fewer pollution controls. The inventory takes the conversation about reducing emissions a step further than riding bikes and turning down thermostats. It forces us to begin to look at consumer choice by shining a light on the bigger carbon footprint. 

“For decades cities around the world have been tracking emissions produced locally, which is important,” reflected Kyle. “However, when you consider emissions produced in other parts of the world to meet local demand, you have a more thorough analysis of the problem and how we can combat the challenge.”

Kyle was honored to collaborate with David Allaway at Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, who led the work to adapt Oregon’s consumption-based inventory for Multnomah County. 

“I believe there is a role for government to regulate emissions, but ultimately this situation is the result of choices made every day by consumers,” said Kyle. “It comes down to supply and demand. Consumers need to be informed so they can use their buying power to support products and businesses that disclose emissions and work to reduce them across their supply chains.”

A passion for equity

Kyle also serves on the Citywide Equity Committee, working with other City bureaus to dismantle institutional racism and advance equity. “People know I’m an advocate for racial equity. What you might not know is that I’m gay,” he shares. “People ask me why I don’t commit my efforts to gay rights. There are lots of talented gay men and women who work for LGBTQ rights and I honor them, but I feel I have more of an impact using my power as a white male to fight against racial oppression. For me the rationale is simple: we can move mountains when those who reap benefits of unearned privilege join the movements of the oppressed. Similarly, I would call to our straight allies and ask them to stand and do the same for gender and sexual minorities.”

In addition to his work at BPS, Kyle serves on two nonprofit boards — Resolutions NW and the Community Energy Project. He is also enrolled in the Executive Masters of Public Administration at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University, recently traveling with his cohort to Washington, D.C. to study the national policy process. The trip included meetings with advocacy groups, think tanks, lobbyists, and legislative and federal agency staffers.

Kyle is deeply committed to advancing equity, defending the environment and advancing democracy. In the future, he would like to parlay his experience in local government to work in Federal government. Maybe someday he’ll run for public office. “It would be an honor to serve Oregonians in Congress,” Kyle remarked. BPS is fortunate to have him on our team. 

There's still time to submit comments for the draft 2015 Climate Action Plan for Portland and Multnomah County

Comments flowing in after two open houses and even more presentations to community groups.

CAP Open House AgendaJust two more weeks to submit your feedback on the City of Portland and Multnomah County's draft 2015 Climate Action Plan. The deadline for comments is Friday, April 10, 2015.

Download a copy of the plan or individual chapters that interest you most then submit a comment using the easy online form.

The draft plan provides a roadmap for the community to achieve an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, with an interim goal of a 40 percent reduction by 2030.

“Total carbon emissions in the U.S. are up 7 percent since 1990. Here, in Portland and Multnomah County, we’ve cut total emissions by 14 percent, with 30 percent more people and over 75,000 more jobs. Clearly we are headed in a different direction," said Susan Anderson, director of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. “The investments that have helped us cut energy use and reduce carbon emissions are the same things that make people want to live here: Creating walkable neighborhoods with shopping, restaurants and parks; investing in transit and bike facilities; and making our homes and buildings more efficient and comfortable.”

In 1993, Portland was the first city in the United States to create a local action plan for cutting carbon. The 2015 draft plan builds on Portland’s 20+ year legacy of climate action with ambitious new policies, fresh research on consumption choices and engagement with community leaders serving low-income households and communities of color to help ensure that all Portlanders benefit from the City and County’s climate action efforts.

“Climate change is a threat to the health and wellbeing of our entire community, but will fall hardest on those most vulnerable to climate change impacts including older adults, children, people in poverty and people of color” said John Wasiutynski, director of the Multnomah County Office of Sustainability. “The County is committed to working with the communities we serve to ensure they are empowered to protect themselves and benefit from climate solutions.”

Two open house events in March have sparked interest. Following community input and revisions, the draft plan will be considered for adoption by the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, Multnomah County Board of Commissioners and the Portland City Council in June 2015.

As global leaders grapple with the concerns and opportunities the changing climate presents, Portland has become an international destination for planners and decision-makers seeking proven strategies for climate action. Since 2010, more than 160 delegations from around the world have come to Portland to speak with business and government leaders to understand how Portland has lowered emissions while welcoming growth and creating a more livable community. Portland and Multnomah County now have 12,000 clean tech jobs, an increase of 25 percent in the last 15 years.

Highlights of the draft Climate Action Plan

  • This summer TriMet will open Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People, the largest bridge in the United States to carry people on transit, bikes and on foot, but no cars. To accommodate the potential for higher river levels from climate change, the height of the bridge above the water was increased. The draft plan calls for continued investments that expand active transportation options throughout Portland and ensure those infrastructure investments are resilient to the impacts of climate change. 
  • Over the last five years, Portland residents have installed more than 2,000 solar systems and more than 3,500 homeowners have insulated their houses. The draft plan calls for doubling solar installations through efforts like community solar and continuing to weatherize homes at a faster rate than ever.
  • This spring the Portland City Council will consider an energy tracking and reporting policy for large commercial buildings. If adopted, the City will work with building owners and managers to access resources to improve the energy performance of Portland’s largest 1,000 commercial buildings.
  • Recent changes to garbage and composting service have led to a 37 percent reduction in garbage headed to the landfill. Residential bills are down two years in a row, while Portland’s recycling rate has reached 70 percent, one of the highest in the nation. The draft plan focuses on reaching renters and large multifamily communities to get those numbers even higher.
  • The draft plan also proposes to broaden the City’s work on waste to look at “upstream” opportunities to make more efficient use of existing goods, vehicles and buildings, such as car-sharing and short-term rentals. Other new business models are emerging to make it easier for people to rent, borrow, repair, and reuse everyday goods.

The 2015 Climate Action Plan includes new areas of focus

Advancing equity: Portland is changing. More than half of the students in Portland Public Schools, for example, are people of color. Low-income communities and people of color in Multnomah County are likely to experience the impacts of climate change more acutely, including increased air pollution and heat waves.

At the same time, these communities historically have not had the same access to the kinds of services and infrastructure that make low-carbon choices easier and affordable, such as frequent transit service and adequate sidewalks in East Portland or energy efficiency programs that benefit renters. From transportation investments and economic opportunities to tree plantings and policy engagement, the 2015 draft plan prioritizes actions that reduce disparities and ensure that under-served and under-represented communities share in the benefits of climate action work.

“Certain populations, including low-income households, communities of color, linguistically isolated households, renters and older adults may be less able to prepare for and recover from impacts from climate change,” said Claudia Arana Colen, health equity coordinator, Upstream Public Health. “I am pleased to see the needs of vulnerable populations prioritized, and expect Portland and Multnomah County to deliver on their commitments to these communities as they implement this plan.”

Exploring consumption: For the first time, the Climate Action Plan includes a consumption-based inventory, tallying carbon emissions associated with all of the goods and services that are produced elsewhere and consumed in Multnomah County. This inventory considers carbon emissions from the full lifecycle of goods and services, including production, transportation, wholesale and retail, use and disposal. Global carbon emissions as a result of local consumer demand are larger than the volume of emissions produced locally.

The addition of the consumption-based inventory offers insight into a wider range of opportunities to reduce carbon emissions. Residents, for example, can shift purchases toward goods that are durable and repairable. Businesses have opportunities throughout their supply chains to choose lower-carbon options, and new business models like car-sharing are emerging to make it easier to borrow, repair and reuse everyday goods.

Comments are due by April 10, 2015

  1. Visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/climate for more information about the new plan, and to read specific chapters or download the full draft plan.
  2. Comments on the draft 2015 City of Portland and Multnomah County Climate Action Plan are due by April 10, 2015.
  3. Share your feedback on the draft plan using this online form.

Comments are also accepted by:
Email to: climate@portlandoregon.gov

Postal mail to:

RE: 2015 Climate Action Plan
City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
1900 SW 4th Avenue, #7100
Portland, OR 97201

Ask the Curbside Hotline Operator: What plastics go in the blue recycling roll cart?

Plastic bottles and tubsQ: What plastics go in to the blue recycling roll cart?

A: The plastics accepted for curbside recycling are based on their size and shape.

  • Bottles with neck smaller than base (6 ounces or larger)
  • Tubs that are round or square (6 ounces or larger)
  • Pots for plants (4 inches or larger)
  • Buckets (5 gallons or smaller)

We know items come in plastic packaging of every shape, size and color. And while it can be confusing to know how to dispose of it when you are done, residents can recycle many plastic items (along with paper and metal) in the blue Portland Recycles! roll cart.

Portland does not use symbols or numbers to determine which plastics are accepted at the curb. Numbers are useful to manufacturers, but when it comes to recycling, they don’t tell the whole story.

Recycling depots accept many non-curbside plastics, including three Far West Recycling locations in Portland.

Want a detailed list of what goes in – or must stay out – of the blue recycling roll cart or other curbside containers?

Find information online or download a guide in 10 languages. And remember if an item is not on the “yes” recycling or composting list, the best place for it is in the garbage.

Have a question for our Curbside Hotline Operator?
Submit your question online or call 503-823-7202.

Lights, camera, action! Final Centers and Corridors video released; more videos solicited for April film festival

Watch the last episode of our video series about centers and corridors, then submit your own story about growth and development in Portland

Over the past few months, we've shared a series of videos about making great places, how Portland is growing and what makes a vibrant, safe and healthy community. These videos were developed to help explain what is at the heart of the city's new Comprehensive Plan: growing in centers and corridors. We're coming to the end of our story now with the fifth and last installment in the series, called A Healthy, Connected Portland.

But growth, however well planned, can result in some growing pains. People are concerned about traffic and parking, new building designs and compatibility, and gentrification and displacement. And some of them have even made movies about their issues and wishes for the future of Portland. 

So we're putting on a film festival to showcase all the ideas and feelings out there in the community about how Portland is growing and changing. 

Call for film festival submissions

Have you made a movie about Portland recently? Would you like to share it with the greater community? Here's your chance to shine!

Portland is Growing: A Festival of Local Films
Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 6:30 - 9 p.m.
McMenemin's Kennedy School Gymnasium
5736 NE 33rd Ave
Light refreshments served; movies begin at 7 p.m.

This will be a fun and lively event with local film makers, neighborhood activists, city planners and Portland celebrities. Submit your film with a link to bps@portlandoregon.gov by Wednesday, April 8. Please include the following in your email submission:

  • A link to a YouTube or Vimeo page (or similar web hosting site)
  • Title
  • Subject
  • Reason for making the film (what story are you trying to tell?)
  • Director, producer, writer, etc.
  • Date of publication or release
  • Name of submitting organization or individual
  • Contact information

Entries will be selected to ensure a broad range of topics and perspectives are covered. We'll let you know if your film will be included in the festival by April 22. Then get ready for Portland's homegrown Academy Awards! Your film or others', Portland is Growing: A Film Festival promises to be star studded.

And to see the entire Centers and Corridors video playlist, please visit our Centers and Corridors page.

PSC News: March 24, 2015 Meeting Recap and Documents

Comprehensive Plan — work session

Agenda

  • Comprehensive Plan — work session

Meeting files

An archive of meeting minutes and documents of all Planning and Sustainability Commission meetings are available at http://efiles.portlandoregon.gov/webdrawer.dll/webdrawer/search/rec?sm_class=uri_7223&count&rows=50.