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Running an efficient city is our job and we all do it well. Efficiency is determined by many factors – among them are major capital investments, like solar energy and LED streetlights, to the day-to-day choices we make to save time, money and resources.
Over the past 20 years the City of Portland has become an international leader in sustainability. And the projects that got us here have saved money to the tune of $61 million dollars in gas and electricity bills. Recently Portland was recognized as the nation’s first Salmon-Safe City and awarded by C40 for the Best Climate Action Plan in the World. This year, City operations are powered by 100 percent renewable energy!
It’s critical that we walk our talk here at the City. Did you know that the City and County recently committed to reaching 100 percent renewable energy for the entire community by 2050? That means in three decades every home, school, hospital, vehicle and business will be carbon-free.
From turning off your computer at night to using a refillable water bottle, your everyday choices make a difference. Every day, each of you can make small changes that really add up.
Your colleagues in the Citywide Green Team want to share new ideas (and some classics) for running a healthier, more efficient and sustainable workplace. Keep an eye out for ideas and reminders for everyday opportunities to make city operations more efficient. We’ll also feature special projects, major accomplishments and a little friendly competition to keep you on your toes.
Remember that great efficiency ideas come from you. Look around your workplace and find ways to save energy, water and recycle.
Combining onsite renewable energy generation, like solar, with the purchase of renewable energy credits, City operations are now powered completely by clean electricity.
The City of Portland will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy for fiscal year 2015-2016. Last year (FY 2014-15), the City got very close, reaching 71 percent, but this is the first year that Portland has met the 100 percent goal.
In 2015, Portland City Council adopted the Sustainable City Government 2030 Environmental Performance Objectives, directing City operations to purchase or generate clean power for 100 percent of electricity needs.
The 2015 Climate Action Plan further calls for 15 percent of the City’s electricity use to be from onsite generation of renewable energy, like solar and biogas. For this current fiscal year, seven percent of the City’s electricity came from onsite renewable energy generation assets.
Thanks to Mayor Charlie Hales’ staunch support of solar for City operations, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has been working steadily to increase the amount of solar electric capacity installed on City facilities. Two new installations currently underway move the City closer to achieving our onsite energy generation goal of 15 percent.
North Police Precinct
Currently under construction and expected to be completed by mid-January 2017, the North Police Precinct station will be topped off with a 63 kilowatt solar electric system, which will produce about 70,000 kWh annually. This translates into a reduction of the power purchased from the electric utility by approximately 6 percent and will save about $6,650 in annual electricity costs.
Funded through a generous grant from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program, all of the renewable electricity produced onsite will be used by the North Police Precinct building. Savings from the onsite energy production will flow through the operating budget of the Portland Police Bureau, city General Fund and ultimately passed on to taxpayers.
The North Precinct site at NE Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and NE Killingsworth streets was chosen because of its prominence in the neighborhood and its suitability as a solar system host. The building has excellent access to the sun, a brand new roof and approval from Police Bureau leadership and the facility managers. Further, the project has strong support from the local businesses, schools and neighbors.
Fire Station 1
Last month, the City was selected for funding from Portland General Electric’s Renewable Development Fund grant program to pilot our first solar-plus-storage facility at Fire Station 1. Located at SW Naito Parkway and SW Ash Street, Fire Station 1 is the main incident command post for Portland Fire & Rescue.
This project is intended to increase the resiliency of critical City infrastructure in the event of a prolonged power outage, like the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake. Unlike traditional back-up generators that run on fossil fuels, solar plus storage installations are designed to keep critical power loads functioning with a renewable power source (the sun!) for a prolonged period of time. The new system will save $3,300 annually in electricity costs.
As more photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage systems come online, the importance of training first responders how to use these types of systems will continue to grow. The Fire Station 1 installation will help others in the firefighting and emergency response communities learn how to design and use solar-plus-storage installations.
This project would not be possible without the grant from PGE. Energy Trust of Oregon will provide technical assistance with the design and feasibility analysis.
The remainder of the City’s renewable electricity goal is being met by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs). The City purchases RECs to address the remaining electricity purchased from the utility companies. RECs offset the City’s use of fossil-fuel based power.
RECs represent the environmental, social and non-power attributes of renewable electricity generation. They are the accepted legal instrument used to substantiate renewable electricity use claims.
For fiscal year 2015-16, the City is purchasing 128,383 megawatt-hours (128,383,000 kWh) of renewable electricity use in City operations. That’s enough electricity to power about 1,300 Portland homes for one year!
RECs represent a majority of the City’s renewable electricity portfolio for the time being. However, the City intends to keep adding more onsite renewable energy generation so that over time, the REC portion of our electricity mix will decrease.
Thanks to installations like North Police Precinct and Fire Station 1, and with thanks to Office of Management and Finance, Portland Water Bureau, Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland Parks and Recreation and Portland Fire and Rescue for purchasing RECs, the City will meet its 100 percent renewable electricity goal for the first time!
BPS advisors encourage colleagues to keep working green
The Sustainable City Government (SCG) program, hosted by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, helps City bureaus save money, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier more equitable workplace through technical assistance and advocacy. By investing in energy efficiency, the City has saved more than $50 million in utility bills since 1991. Emissions from City operations have fallen 32 percent since FY 06-07 (our baseline year.) Over the next 15 years, the City’s goal is to reduce emissions from operations 53 percent below FY 06-07 levels.
“The Sustainable City Government program draws on the knowledge of BPS staff to help City bureaus achieve the 2030 Environmental Performance Objectives that were reaffirmed by City Council in 2015,” said Andria Jacob, senior manager of energy programs and policy at BPS. "SCG is small but mighty. With less than 2 FTE, we leverage the expertise of BPS's best brains to help keep the City working green."
Clockwise starting top left: Kyle Diesner, Andria Jacob, Danny Grady, Paul de Block, Pam Neild.
Meet our sustainability experts:
Paul De Block
Sustainability Advisor, Sustainability at Work
BPS Sustainability Advisor Paul de Block is a key member of BPS’s business outreach program, Sustainability at Work. As a small but effective part of this role, Paul provides technical assistance to City bureaus, facilitates the Waste Subcommittee and supports the coordination of recycling and waste prevention projects. With more than 10 years of experience supporting large Portland-based organizations such as Providence and Portland State University, Paul really knows his stuff, and, more importantly, how to get rid of it in the most environmentally responsible way.
I’m most proud of the city offices and bureaus who have achieved Sustainability at Work certification.
Program Coordinator, Sustainable City Government and Green Team Chair
Analyzing currents for safe passage
Pam Neild, aka “The Skipper,” maps out program strategy for Sustainable City Government, designs communications materials and leads city-wide green team activities. Pam is most proud of the SCG 2030 Environmental Performance Objectives. She steered numerous stakeholder meetings and multiple rounds of drafts to develop objectives for City operations that are clear, comprehensive and measurable.
I’m a guide like any other. I’m a trusted friend who responds with accurate and timely information. I navigate staff through sustainability rapids and we survive the journey unscathed, most of the time.
Senior Energy Specialist, Sustainable City Government
Taking good energy to City bureaus
As senior energy specialist, Danny sparks City bureaus to save energy and to create energy from renewable energy sources. Swift like an electrical current, he offers technical assistance, identifies funding opportunities for energy projects, and advises city operations staff on issues relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Since entering into his role last August, Danny is most proud of the continued development of a strategic plan with the OMF Facilities’ Strategic Planning group. He has worked closely with this team to incorporate strategic energy management, utility billing tracking, and capital planning efforts into a comprehensive energy strategy for City Facilities.
Policy Analyst, Sustainable City Government
Oceans of experience
Kyle is a policy analyst on the clean energy team at BPS. He provides policy analysis, long-range planning, and program development for a variety of programs, policies, and actions under the umbrella of the City/County Climate Action Plan. Kyle also coordinates the community-wide greenhouse gas and consumption-based emission inventories for Portland.
For Sustainable City Government, Kyle guides the development of the carbon emissions inventory used for tracking progress towards the City of Portland’s Sustainable City Government goals. He also provides technical support to bureaus who want to quantify carbon emission reductions and their contributions to achieve Climate Action Plan goals.
A frequent presenter on our climate and energy work in the community, he has served on diversity and equity committees and brings a social equity lens to all of his work.
Learn more about the Sustainable City Government program at www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/scg.