Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

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

More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View Less

New methodology protocols affect carbon emissions data for Multnomah County

Trends from 1990 to 2017 show that Portland must do more to reduce emissions over next decade.

September 30, 2019

Portland’s carbon emissions inventory shows where to focus carbon mitigation efforts and whether we are on track with emission reduction goals. Since the 2017 Climate Action Plan progress report, staff have worked to update all the annual records in accordance with the new Global Protocol for Community-scale GHG Emission Inventories to align with the Paris Agreement (limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius). A newly released climate data report shows the new numbers. 

By updating protocols, Portland stays in alignment with other cities around the world, enabling better tracking against long range goals with greater confidence. Updating protocols is a challenge for cities and can create discrepancies with previously reported emissions. For example, to move to the global reporting protocol, Portland had to update accounting methods for emissions from landfilled waste, wastewater treatment, and fugitive emissions. This required finding new data sources all the way back to the 1990 baseline to consistently compare data year over year.

The City of Portland uses multiple emission protocols to compare results and better refine estimates of emissions produced locally. By reviewing data using different protocols, Portland can make up for gaps in individual methodologies. For example, Portland reports electricity sector emissions by greenhouse gas, a level of detail only available for the Northwest Power Pool, although as discussed above, those emissions are lower than the emissions from Portland’s two electric utilities. Therefore, the use of multiple protocols allows Portland to better understand what’s happening locally.

The time required to find and evaluate new data sets for a protocol change delays the frequency of emissions inventory reporting. Changes to protocols that affect data collection and carbon accounting limit comparability with previously reported data using older methodologies. With a baseline year of 1990, protocol changes create substantial new work as more than 20 years of inventories need to be consistently updated.

A success story and a warning

Despite 26 years of climate planning and mitigation, local carbon emission reductions in Multnomah County have hit a plateau, at around 15% below 1990 levels. This is a success story and a warning. The reductions to date are impressive given population growth since 1990, 38% more people and 34% more jobs. Collectively we have reduced per-person emissions in Portland by 38% since 1990, although it is clear reduction efforts need to rapidly accelerate.

Transportation sector emissions are increasing dramatically, currently 8% over 1990 levels, and 14% over their lowest levels in 2012. Portland has experienced year over year increases in transportation related emissions for the past five years, with transportation emissions growing faster than population growth over the same period.

The United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report in October 2018 which projected that limiting warming to the 1.5°C target will require an unprecedented transformation of every sector of the global economy to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve this, Portland must reduce our local emissions by 35% in the next 11 years, a daunting task.

New carbon emissions inventory reports on trends from 1990 to 2017

Today, carbon emissions from Multnomah County total 7,700,000 Metric Tons CO2e, which is a 15% reduction from 1990 levels. This decline reflects the continued growth of renewable energy resources like wind and solar in the Pacific Northwest, investments in transit and bike infrastructure, dense and walkable neighborhoods, renewable transportation fuels, as well as the transition from fuel oil to natural gas for heating. This means that a person living in Portland today produces 38% fewer carbon emissions than they would have in 1990. 

Read the full report.

Check your own emissions

Households and businesses can assess their own carbon emissions by using free online tools, like the Cool Climate Network’s calculators: 

Portland joins countries and cities around the world to cut down the distribution of single-use plastic

Portland restaurants can only provide single-use plastic items by request, not by default.

Plastic straws, stirrers, utensils, etc

Half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once. Let that sink in.

“These non-recyclable single-use plastic items are piling up in garbage cans, on Portland’s streets and in our waterways,” said City of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “We’ve heard from the Portland community and thank the restaurants who have already taken action over the past year to stop automatically offering single-use plastic items. By working together, we can reduce waste and keep Portland beautiful.”  

Last summer, the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability worked with local stakeholders on a waste reduction policy to address single-use plastics. The result: As of Oct. 1, 2019, businesses in Portland cannot include plastic straws, stirrers, utensils or individually packaged condiments in a customer’s order for dine-in, drive-through, take-out or delivery. These items can only be provided upon customer request. 

“Last week our bureau released a new climate data report. We are committed to working with Portlanders to set priorities for climate action, and waste reduction plays a role in that,” said Andrea Durbin, director, City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. “This new policy will reduce plastic litter and the demand for energy and resources, including fossil fuels, needed to make single-use items.” 

All retail food and beverage establishments are required to comply, including sit-down and fast food restaurants, food carts, bars, coffee and tea shops, grocery stores, convenience stores, hotels and motels, caterers and food service contractors. This includes educational, medical and governmental institutions that provide food and beverages. The only exception is for meals provided as part of a social service to vulnerable populations, including free or reduced-price meals provided by school systems, homeless shelters and programs that deliver meals to the elderly. 

Community helped to draft an inclusive “by-request” policy instead of a complete ban

In summer 2018, local restaurants, wholesalers, a medical facility, American Disability Act (ADA) advocates, and environmental advocates considered plastics reduction at a series of meetings. Partners from Multnomah County, Prosper Portland and the City of Portland Bureau of Equity and Human Rights were also at the table. 

“Participating in the City’s single-use disposables policy is a given for Burgerville,” said Hillary Barbour, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Burgerville. “We were early adopters of innovative packaging, recycling waste oil into biodiesel, and offsetting 100% of our energy use with green power. Implementing this initiative at all 41 Burgerville locations throughout Oregon and Washington brings us closer to our vision for the Pacific Northwest to be the healthiest region on the planet.”

BPS then worked with Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office to research the policies of other cities, conduct a series of workgroup meetings, analyze community feedback and land on a more inclusive “by-request” policy recommendation. Since some customers would find it difficult or impossible to drink without a plastic straw, the “by-request” approach respects the disability community’s needs while achieving waste reduction. 

Portland food retailers were notified twice over the summer

The City of Portland sent affected businesses notification letters in June and September 2019. 
See the September notification, which included a sign for customers, in English, Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, and Korean.  

For more details, visit 

2019 Legislative Session Update

Housing and sustainability-focused bills will help increase housing opportunity and add to the sustainability toolkit in Portland.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability doesn’t just develop new zoning code and climate actions plans. Staff also work closely with the City of Portland’s legislative liaisons to ensure we’re achieving our goals for a healthy and equitable city at the state level. 

At the close of the 2019 state legislative session, an unprecedented number of bills we’ve advocated for passed into law. Below is a list of the most impactful bills on the future of housing and equitable opportunities for all Portlanders, as well as several that address waste reduction.


HB 2001 – Middle Housing Requirement

HB2001 requires the state’s bigger cities to allow middle housing in single-dwelling zones. This mandate is larger than the scope of the Residential Infill Project: It allows duplexes everywhere, and triplexes, quadplexes, and cottage clusters in some single-dwelling neighborhoods. It applies to all single-dwelling residential zones, whereas RIP currently applies to R7, R5, and R2.5 zones. Currently, the bill requires cities to comply by June 2022, which will give us time to bring Portland’s RF, R20 and R10 zones into compliance.  

HB 20001 also includes direction to the Building Codes Division (BCD) to change the building code rules on converting existing single-dwellings to triplexes and quadplexes.

HB 2003 – Housing Needs Analysis

This bill creates a new performance measure for housing: a housing shortage analysis. The State of Oregon will do a statewide housing analysis and determine housing allocations for Oregon’s regions and local jurisdictions. Housing would be classified by type and affordability. Cities will be required to adopt a housing production strategy (after updating their buildable land inventories) to identify steps to remove financial and regulatory impediments to developing needed housing. Cities would need to update the analysis every six years.

SB 534 – Residential Narrow Lot Development

This bill was a high priority for the Portland homebuilders. It requires the City of Portland to allow development of at least one dwelling unit on each platted lot that is zoned for single-family development, subject to reasonable siting and design regulations. The new rules, which take effect March 1, 2020, would allow for more narrow lot, skinny house development than is recommended by the Residential Infill Project. Zoning map changes for areas with underlying historic narrow lot plats will need to be incorporated into RIP.

HB 2916 – Transitional Housing

Removes limits on the number of campgrounds allowed in a city, especially those for transitional housing.

HB 2423 – Small Home Specialty Code

Adopts International Residential Code Appendix Q as part of state building codes to regulate the construction of permanently sited small homes under 400 square feet, including sleeping lofts accessed by ladders. Requires small homes to include photoelectric smoke alarm. Adopts standards for residential fire sprinkler system.

SB 608 – No Cause Evictions and Rent Stabilization

Prohibits landlords from terminating month-to-month tenancy without cause after 12 months of occupancy. Limits maximum annual rent increase to seven percent above annual change in consumer price index. Declares emergency, effective on passage.


Sustainability wins and losses in the 2019 state legislative session.

Though HB 2020, Oregon’s Cap and Trade bill, did not reach the Governor’s desk, several bills addressing waste reduction passed, including:

  • HB 2509: Plastic bag ban
  • SB 90: Straw and condiments by request only
  • HB 3273: Drug takeback
  • HB 3114: Ecycles updates
  • SB 792: More regulations for auto dismantlers
  • SB 93: Bottle bill – redemption centers in rural areas
  • SB 247-B: Bottle bill expanded to hard kombucha
  • SB 522A: Bottle bill – limits out-of-state returns
  • SB 914: Bottle bill – OBRC product registry required

HB 2623 – Related to hydraulic fracturing (passed)

This bill prohibits the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas exploration and production. Recognizing the bill supports City of Portland Climate Action Plan goals, BPS supported this bill as a #1 priority.

Recycle or not? Reciclar o no?

Oregon Metro launches new website and Instagram to answer challenging home recycling questions.

recycle or not instagram account page

With so many items to sort, it can be confusing to know what is and isn’t recyclable. Oregon Metro's new websites, (Spanish) or (English) and Instagram accounts, @Reciclarono (Spanish) @RecycleorNot (English) are great new tools to clear up confusion. For example, for the next six months the featured item, plastic bags – and their pesky counterpart, plastic wrap – have a clear answer: They cannot be recycled at home. They belong in the garbage.

A new resource for home recyclers in the greater Portland area

To protect the environment and reduce waste, it’s important to learn how to recycle right. Next time you come across an item and aren’t sure if it’s recyclable, these new sites focus on some of the most confusing items and tell you whether you can recycle them at home. 

If you check out Recycle or Not but still aren’t sure if the item is recyclable, and it’s not hazardous, throw it away. It may feel wrong but remember that you’re protecting the environment by keeping trash out of your home recycling bin.

Think first about reducing or reusing plastic bags and plastic wrap

While you can’t recycle plastic bags at home, you can help reduce waste by reusing them or reducing how many you use. Try to switch to items like reusable bags that can be used for years.

When you do get plastic bags, try reusing them. Even if you reuse your plastic bags just once, you’ll end up using half as many. Be sure to keep bags in a place where you’ll remember them, like your car or kitchen.

BPS statement on HB2001 and SB534

How the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability's work on Residential Infill Project and other housing opportunity initiatives aligns with new state legislation


News from the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
July 3, 2019


Donnie Oliveira



Portland, ORE. — With the passage of HB2001 (middle housing) and SB534 (narrow lots) in the state legislature — and expected Governor’s signature — the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability can begin to determine how the Residential Infill Project meets the bills' objectives.

Bureau staff will be doing a crosswalk of the two bills and the Residential Infill Project to validate the Planning and Sustainability Commission’s (PSC) recommendation and identify any gaps before taking the project to City Council in the fall. For example, we know that we will need to adjust the historically narrow lots recommendation to comply with SB534. HB2001 has a compliance deadline of June 30, 2021, while the SB534 compliance deadline is March 1, 2020. 

In addition, City Council has funded an anti-displacement project to anticipate and mitigate any unintended displacement of under-represented residents as we continue to implement the Comprehensive Plan. We are currently scoping the project now. 

Our plan is to bring this Housing Opportunities Initiative, the combination of a proposed Anti-Displacement Strategy draft, Residential Infill Project and Better Housing by Design projects as well as the state legislation impacts to City Council this fall. 

Tentative timeline

July 2019
• Anti-displacement Project scoping begins
• HB2001 and SB534 Impact Analysis begins   

August 2019
 Recommended Residential Infill Project/Better Housing by Design drafts published 

• Community outreach begins
• PSC briefing on the Housing Opportunities Initiative (Residential Infill Project/Better Housing by Design/Anti-Displacement Strategy/State legislation)

September 2019 – City Council work session (to be confirmed)

October 2019 – Better Housing by Design to Council; public hearings 

November 2019 – Residential Infill Project to Council; public hearings

# # #