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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

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Growing Green Air

2018 Earth Day Plant Giveaway

 plants  planting  planting  holding plant

Inspired by the work of BDS employee Brandon Rogers, the Citywide Green Team would like to give you your own baby plant during April 2018. It’s a small way for us to thank you for your sustainability efforts each and every day. The only catch: you need to promise to water it.

Where to find your plant

Planting stations can be found in locations around the City. Get one while supplies last or get on the waiting list. Spider plants grow quickly so you won’t have to wait long.

City Hall – Contact: Susan Barr, Janine Gates, or Heather Saby

Congress Center – Contact: Bill Crawford, Ethan Cirmo

Columbia Square – Contact: Icie Ta

400 SW 6th Avenue and Pioneer Tower – Contact: Elena Estrada or Pam Mavis

1900 SW 4th Avenue – Contact: Brandon Rogers (BDS) or Kyenne Williams (BPS)

North Kerby Yard – Contact: Tawnya Harris (CityFleet) or Rich Grant (PBOT)

WasteWater Treatment Plant – Contact: David Olsav

Why keep indoor plants?

Your baby plant will be doing its small part to improve our indoor air quality by absorbing commonly found air pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde. Eliminating harmful pollutants in our air is a key City environmental performance objective. See how we're doing at

This Sustainability Hero inspired us to find a way to bring everyone a plant

Headshot“Plants bring people together in really interesting ways. People connect on a personal level and come alive,” explains Brandon Rogers, a city planner with the Bureau of Development Services. Brandon has been giving plants to his colleagues at the City in what is both a social experiment and an effort to improve indoor air quality.

In the spring of 2017, Brandon was walking around the offices when he noticed some particularly healthy spider plants with hundreds of little babies ready to be rooted. So, Brandon did just that and started giving them away. Soon he purchased pots and soil and even found a free surplus AV cart at PSU which he set up as a mobile plant station.

Brandon’s project has really taken root, helped along by Kate Green, Green Team member and colleague. They’ve given away 100 plants and counting! For Brandon, it is satisfying to see how caring for plants is social and relaxing. And he's happy knowing that indoor plants, especially spider plants, clean the air, removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzine. His advice to others: “Follow your heart. Start small. Share your ideas with others and collaborate.”

In his personal life, Brandon has also made some big changes. In 2012, after reading a book on food production, he became a vegan. Brandon wanted to minimize animal suffering and reduce his carbon footprint. He recalls that at first it was very hard. “About two weeks in I dreamed of a six-foot high pile of sliced tri tip covered in cheddar cheese.” By now, though, Brandon sleeps easy and feels great about his food choices.

We admit it: Mom was right.

Citywide Green Team asks staff how they help keep trash and recycling out of the landfill. Congratulations are in order for over 15 raffle prize winners.

Mom’s advice has some real green cred.

Mother's Day was Sunday, May 14, so honor mom by listening to what she's been saying for years.


» Wipe your face! (It prevents waste)

In a recent waste study at one of our buildings, paper towels made up a third of the landfill waste. Switch to cloth! You can prevent waste by bringing a cloth napkin to work with your lunch. There are lots of actions you already do, show us and win a prize!

Over 150 of you came out to meet your Citywide Green Team: On Thursday, May 18, 2017 the Citywide Green Team held events in eight locations around the City. They asked staff what they do to keep waste out of the landfill. In exchange, staff were entered to win one of fifteen gift certificates.

A sample of what staff are doing (remember little things add up!):

  • A number of you use cloth napkins at home and many committed to bringing one to work.
  • Many bring lunch to work in a reusable container and committed to stop using plastic sandwich bags.
  • Some of you use reusable mesh produce bags and reusable shopping bags at home.
  • Some staff take extra plastics to Far West Fibers for recycling.
  • Oh so many of you bring a reusable coffee mug to work. Keep up the good work!

And the winners are…

Congratulations to the following staff who won a raffle prize. Lindsey Maser, BPS; Zach Odil, P&D; Tish Leos and Bernadette Landgdon, PBOT; Marianna Lomanto, ONI Crime Prevention; Mary Jaron Kelley and Tom Griffin-Valade, ONI North Portland Neighborhood Services; Sophia Terry and Clayton Amber, BES; Rose Imani, CityFleet; Sue Parsons, Auditor's office; Mary Schneider, ONI; and Ross Jonak, BDS.

And a free lunch goes to:

The Green Team wanted to know if dishtowels were already being used in workplace kitchens instead of paper towels. They asked staff to snap a photo and send a list of coworkers’ names who make it happen. That list was entered into a drawing for a free lunch. Congratulations to Portland Water Bureau Interstate Office staff Karen Scott and Anna DiBenedetto who manage the program for their office. 

Another free lunch just because:

Green Team staff received so many nice comments about this person and how she manages the BES dishtowels and women’s restroom at the Portland Building, that they made some money available for a second prize. Congratulations to BES staff, Jennifer Antak, for her commitment to this program.

» On your way out? Don't forget your coat!

An extra layer protects you from the cold — and the same rings true for your home and workplace. It’s called insulation and it makes a big difference: About 20 percent of all carbon emissions comes from our homes — on average, more than our cars. Making your home more energy efficient is good for you, too: It makes your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer (and lowers your energy bill). Whether your rent or own your home, there are many low-cost and no-cost options to make your home more energy efficient.

» Share your stuff!

Making, shipping and packaging the “stuff” we buy accounts for about a quarter of our city’s household carbon emissions. Borrowing seldom-used items saves money, cuts clutter and is great for the environment. Portland is filled with opportunities to borrow tools for home and garden projects, kitchen gadgets and kids’ toys from lending libraries.

» Keep it going, Portland!

There are lots of ways to cut waste in City operations. Over the last year, nearly 80 percent of City employees participated in the paperless paystub option. Making this choice has saved nearly 150,000 sheet of paper. That’s nearly 20 trees a year! Thank you OMF Bureau of Human Resources staff for giving us this option.

» Questions?

Your friends in the Citywide Green Team are ready to answer questions and provide resources. Visit or email

Earth Day every day. Great ideas come from you.

Citywide Green Team launches regular staff communications with a message from Mayor Wheeler.

City employees demonstrating green practices

Happy Earth Day to the 6,000+ City Employees that make this City work!

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.

Remember: Little things add up

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.

Keep it going

Remember that great efficiency ideas come from you. Look around your workplace and find ways to save energy, water and recycle.


Program staff are ready to answer questions and provide resources. Visit or email

Portland reaches 100 percent renewable goal for City operations

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.

Purchasing Renewables

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!

New Sustainable City Government blog: Inside the City that works green

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."

Sustainable City Government Team
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

Waste not, want not

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.

Pam Neild
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.

Danny Grady
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.

Kyle Diesner
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