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Portland City Council approves new goals for Sustainable City Government operations

City bureaus model sustainable principles and practices and save long-term operating costs

Portland City Council approved a new set of Sustainable City Government Principles and an update to the Green Building Policy for City Facilities. Together, these resolutions will guide city bureaus to implement long-term operational efficiencies with a focus on sustainable approaches.

“City bureaus have a long track record of sustainability, but it’s important that we periodically revisit our policies and goals, and push ourselves to continue to look for innovative solutions,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

Council passed a resolution to update the City’s green building requirements for facilities that the City owns and manages. Building green reflects the City’s commitment to saving natural resources, while creating healthy spaces for workers and visitors. It also helps the City save money on energy, water, waste and stormwater management.

“From solar installations to recycling to energy efficiency lighting — all City of Portland bureaus are making government operations more cost and resource efficient,” said BPS Director Susan Anderson. “Cities from around the world look to Portland as a leader. Local residents and businesses have invested in resource efficiency, and it's essential that City bureaus walk the talk, too."

The City owns and operates hundreds of buildings, tens of thousands of streetlights and traffic signals and several large-scale industrial plants. Like businesses and other organizations, it must examine every facet of operations for possible energy, resource and cost saving opportunities. Portland adopted the first set of sustainability principles in 1994, a year after Portland released the first-in-the-nation local Climate Action Plan. Through implementation of the first set of principles, the City has saved more than $50 million over 20 years.

"Incorporating sustainability into our operations and our culture helps us improve our operations and service to the public," said Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat. "We are making differences large and small, in everyday projects and all our operations. By converting street lights to energy-saving LEDs, we are saving dollars and energy in virtually all neighborhoods in the city. We also have turned the leaves collected last fall as part of Leaf Day service into compost that is now available for sale to the public. These principles will help us achieve even more. We support these principles because they're the right thing to do and because they make sense operationally."

In recent years, bureaus have partnered to achieve impressive savings projects, including:

  • Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) sustainability-related projects are saving dollars through lower electricity bills and reduced maintenance costs. PBOT is currently converting 45,000 street lights to Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. This conversion will result in a savings of 20 million kilowatt-hours of electricity – cutting energy use in half and saving $1.5 million annually. The new LEDs are expected to last up to 20 years without changing bulbs or major maintenance. 
  • Portland’s fire bureau has been making stations more efficient and healthier for over a decade, including two LEED buildings.
  • Portland Parks and Recreation is the first and only park system in the country certified for salmon-friendly parks management. The bureau makes energy efficiency improvements a priority as a routine part of the ongoing work for the Parks Replacement Bond.
  • The Office of Management and Finance’s sustainable procurement program is 13 years old and has received national and international attention. OMF also manages the City Fleet, which will be 20 percent electric by 2030.
  • Today, approximately 44 percent of City-controlled impervious surfaces are managed via sustainable stormwater strategies like green street projects. The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services has overseen the construction of over 2,000 green street facilities since 2006. BES staff at Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant have reduced electricity consumption by 40 percent. In 1991, power use was at 30 million kilowatt-hours; in 2015, the number was roughly 18 million kWh. One of the more exciting future initiatives at the plant is to use surplus biogas and make it suitable for use as a transportation fuel. This kind of innovation brings cost savings and significant carbon and emission reductions for the community.
  • “We talk about ‘Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland,’ which means building, maintaining, and operating our parks and recreation system in order to promote ecological health,” said Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté. “Portland Parks & Recreation enthusiastically supports the new Sustainable City Government Principles, and looks forward to participating in the City’s national green leadership.”

These resolutions renew and refresh Portland’s longstanding commitment to walk its talk when it comes to sustainability.

www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/scg

Project contact

Pam Neild, Sustainable City Government Partnership Program Coordinator
pam.neild@portlandoregon.gov
503-823-0231
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Portland City Council approves energy performance reporting for commercial buildings

Commercial buildings are responsible for nearly a quarter of Portland's carbon emissions and spend more than $335 million on energy every year.

On Earth Day, Portland City Council voted unanimously to approve a new policy that will require owners of commercial buildings over 20,000 square feet to track energy use and report it on an annual basis. The policy will cover nearly 80 percent of the commercial square footage and affect approximately 1,000 buildings.

“Portland has set a goal to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. To reach that goal, we all have a role to play — public and private, at work and at home,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “Reducing energy use in buildings is a critical part of that picture. Tracking energy use and investing in energy efficiency saves money for the building owners. And for the city as a whole. Last year alone, the city saved $6 million on its own energy bills.”

The policy will cover offices, retail spaces, grocery stores, hotels, health care and higher education buildings. It does not include residential properties, nursing homes, and places of worship, parking structures, K-12 schools, industrial facilities or warehouses.

“Today, my clients, tenant customers and staff expect energy efficiency,” said David Genrich, general manager, JLL, a professional services and investment management company specializing in real estate. “Tracking energy use has become a core responsibility of good building managers, and this policy ensures consistency across the board.”

The new Energy Performance Reporting Policy will require commercial buildings to track performance with a free online tool called ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and report energy use information to the City of Portland on an annual basis. There are approximately 5,000 commercial buildings in Portland. Currently fewer than 100 buildings claim ENERGY STAR certification.

“The fact that the policy requires the use of the Energy Star Portfolio Manager in reporting makes a lot of sense. It’s widely used, it is well recognized, it has a lot of credibility, and the EPA makes a lot of training available for people to get familiar with the program,” said Renee Loveland, sustainability manager at Gerding Edlen, one of the nation’s leading real estate investment and development firms. “We’ve been using it over the past several years. All of the other markets we’re currently doing business in have mandatory reporting in place, and Portfolio Manager has been working well for our properties.”

Why are cities like Portland adopting energy performance reporting for commercial buildings?

  • The energy used to power buildings is the largest source of carbon pollution in Portland.
  • Similar to a MPG rating for a car, the energy performance policy allows potential tenants and owners to have access to important information about building energy performance.
  • Commercial energy reporting policies in 12 other U.S. cities have proven to motivate investment in efficiency improvements that save money and reduce carbon emissions.


“This has been a great collaboration among City bureaus and community members, including dozens of building owners and managers,” said Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Director Susan Anderson. “This isn't new. It's tried and true — and already has been adopted in 12 other U.S. cities."

Visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/energyreporting to learn more and track program updates.


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From BPS Director Susan Anderson: Portland takes action on climate change; new video features the business case for climate action now

BPS E-News, Issue 41, April 2015

When I was first hired by the Portland Energy Office to work on local energy policy in the 90s, few people were interested in the issue of global warming. While scientists talked about climate change as a reality, it hadn’t yet become a key public issue.

At that same time, two city council members, Mike Lindberg and Earl Blumenauer, also agreed that national energy policy was unsustainable and that we might have to wait decades to see changes, so we should start at the local level.

With their political support and leadership, in 1993 we adopted our first Climate Action Plan and started to make things happen. And as public awareness of climate change grew, more and more businesses, government and community leaders came together around the need to act.

Fortunately, we realized early on that the things our city desired — reduced costs for businesses, more affordable housing, clean air, healthier kids, lively, walkable neighborhoods and great quality of life — all aligned with actions to reduce carbon emissions.

As business, community and political leaders began to recognize these “co-benefits,” Portland was in a position to embrace its role as a climate change leader, while showing that residents and businesses were saving money. Creating good public policy, together with programs that addressed climate change, became the norm.

Our community has some impressive results to show for it:

  • We made transportation easier with a network of light rail, streetcar and buses.
  • Hundreds of miles of bicycle lanes were added to the city’s street network. Today, more than 6 percent of Portlanders ride their bikes to work, compared with 1 percent on average in other cities.
  • We invested in infrastructure. The new Tilikum Crossing bridge is the most recent example of investments in good urban design, energy efficiency, and healthy, connected communities.
  • City facilities are now more efficient, with savings of more than $6 million/year due to investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • Solarize Portland and related efforts resulted in more than 2,000 residential solar systems installed.
  • The high performance, green building industry took off early here, resulting in large numbers of LEED Gold and Platinum buildings. These designations in Portland are now interchangeable with the words “quality building.”
  • We launched Clean Energy Works to make homes more energy efficient. About 5,000 homes have been improved, thanks to the program’s mix of incentives, loans and individual investments.
  • A similar effort for multifamily housing in the 1990s and 2000s resulted in energy efficiency improvements in more than 40,000 apartments.
  • Recycling is another big win. Four years ago, we changed curbside collection so that recycling, yard debris and food waste are collected weekly, but garbage is picked up every other week. Practically overnight we reduced single-family waste headed to the landfill by 37 percent. The total recycling rate is now 70 percent for all commercial and residential solid waste.

Portland’s early action on climate change had some unexpected benefits with a surge in local expertise in green building, energy efficiency and developing vibrant neighborhoods. Our local designers, engineers, inventors and problem-solvers created all kinds of solutions to address climate change and use resources more efficiently. Now, those people are selling their solutions to the rest of the world. Whether it’s a green building design, stormwater management system or a recycling/waste reduction solution, the sustainable technologies and services sector is now a robust part of our traded sector economy.

Since we created our first Climate Action Plan in 1993, Portland has grown by more than 120,000 people. But we’ve managed to reduce carbon emissions by 14 percent citywide, and on a per person basis, we’re down 35 percent.  In plain language, that means we are continuing to live a good life here in Portland, while cutting the use of fossil fuels by 35% per person.

And at the same time, we’ve added thousands of jobs – proving that you can grow a local economy while downsizing your carbon footprint.

But today, as we set even more ambitious goals for climate action, the sense of urgency has increased. We can’t wait decades to see the dramatic results we need.

And that means we must 1) invest in renewable energy, 2) retrofit our existing buildings to make them healthier and more efficient, 3) develop net-zero energy new buildings, 4) promote more transit, 5) implement land use planning that supports walking and biking, 6) reduce our total consumption, and 7) reuse, recycle and compost as much of our waste as possible.

As Portland has done in the past, these leaps forward will require collaboration among residents, businesses and government. For the latest thinking -- check out the draft 2015 Climate Action Plan, headed to City Council this summer. And, watch this new video to hear from local resident and business climate action leaders.

Together, we can show the world that climate innovation happens here.

 

Susan Anderson, Director

City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

Fix-it Fair Celebrates a Successful 28th Season

Over 70 organizations provided exhibits and workshops that attracted more than 1,700 attendees.

Parkrose High School, Rosa Parks Elementary School and David Douglas High School hosted this winter’s fairs, offering 40 workshops and drawing more than 1,700 people from the diverse surrounding communities.

If you attended a Fair, you may have gotten help from Repair PDX fixing a broken appliance, or had your bike tuned-up by the folks from Safe Routes to School, learned to weatherize your home, or even attended one of the many workshops in Spanish at David Douglas HS.Fix-It Fairs help Portland residents save money while creating healthy homes and enhancing our natural environment. With a primary audience of low- to middle- income residents that are racially and culturally diverse, the Fairs offer free access to community resources and educational opportunities. Spanish speaking attendees made up 16 percent of attendees at the third fair, thanks to a Spanish-language track publicized by Univision KUNP.

Fix-It Fairs have been a success for nearly three decades because of our committed partners. While BPS facilitates the huge events, the rich content and resources are provided by more than 70 organizations who offer exhibits, on-site repairs and workshops. We would also like to thank the more than 60 volunteers who provided outreach, interpretation and staff assistance at the fairs.

A very special thank you goes to our sponsors, Energy Trust of Oregon, Pacific Power, Portland Water Bureau and Univision KUNP.

And while we’re saying thank you, we would like to honor one of the founders of the Fix-it Fairs, Dave Tooze who is retiring this year. Dave helped organize the original fairs and continued to provide workshops on energy savings for just about all 28 years. His friendly smile and depth of knowledge will be sorely missed – but his Fix-It Fair legacy will live on!