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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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Energy Projects at City of Portland Facilities

Energy Efficiency Projects


LED Street Light Conversion

In December 2012 Portland City Council authorized Portland’s Bureau of Transportation to convert all of Portland’s street lights to high efficiency LEDs (light emitting diodes). The conversion will save the City $32 million over the 25-year life of the new lights and will cut energy use for street lighting in half. There will also be significant maintenance savings due to the very long life of LED bulbs. This project alone will reduce carbon emissions from City operations by about 10 percent. The initial phase will focus on converting 46,000 residential street lights following the current lamp replacement cycle, and will take from three to five years to complete.  Street lights along business arterials, major intersections and ornamental lights will be replaced in a second phase after the residential street light conversion is complete.

East Portland Community Aquatics Center

In 2009, the City of Portland constructed the first aquatic center west of the Mississippi to receive LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.  The new aquatics center at East Portland Community Center (EPCC), uses 74 percent less energy than national standards. An innovative heat exchanger recovers heat from exhausted air to heat the pool water, while ample natural lighting coupled with light monitors reduce the building’s energy consumption for lighting by 60 percent.

The facility also boasts solar photovoltaic panels that generate 15 percent of the community center’s energy needs, including a solar hot water heating used to preheat water for showers.  Read more here.

Water Bureau Meter Shop

In 2010, Portland’s Water Bureau renovated its Meter Shop, achieving LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council.  During the renovation the building was upgraded with energy efficient lighting and HVAC systems, interior lighting sensors and strategically placed windows to provide natural daylight.  These building enhancements are expected to reduce energy and electrical use at this facility by 35 percent to 45 percent per year. 

The building's roof was also equipped with a12-kilowatt solar array, which will provide eight to ten percent of the building's normal electrical load.

Gymnasium Lighting Retrofits in Portland Parks Community Centers

Montavilla, Hillside andFultonCommunity Centersreceived new high performance T-5 fluorescent light fixtures in the fall of 2011 thanks to EECBG grant funding.  T-5s are a new generation of high-efficiency lights that often replace metal halide and magnetic ballasted T-12 fluorescent lights, providing higher quality light and lamps with a much longer life - up to ten years.  Parks Bureau electricity bills will be $1,700 lower as a result of this upgrade!

High Performance Lighting Retrofit at Four Public Parking Garages

Portland's system of public parking garages got a face lift in the fall of 2011 when new T-5 fluorescent lights were installed in four downtown parking structures: 4th and Yamhill, 3rd and Alder, 1st Avenueand O'Bryant Square.  T-5s are a superior light source yielding better color properties, higher light levels and a 50 percent reduction in energy use.  The electricity bill savings will reach nearly $50,000 each year.

Portland Building Direct Digital Controls on Heating/Cooling System

Built in 1983, the Portland Building's heating and cooling control system had an antiquated mixture of pneumatic and digital products that controlled the delivery of heat or cooling. Using a mix of city and federal EECBG funds, the city installed a new direct digital controls system that will produce annual savings of 550,000 kWh valued at $44,000 annually.

Water House

In 2011 Portland’s Water Bureau built a showcase home to demonstrate water and energy efficiency.  The home achieved certifications by WaterSense, Earth Advantage, and ENERGY STAR. 

Thanks to its design, choice of materials and appliances, and building location, this building has met the rigorous standards of ENERGY  STAR and Earth Advantage in the categories of Energy Efficiency, Healthier Indoor Air, Materials responsibility, Land conservation, and Water conservation. 

More information about the Water House is available at:

LED Traffic and Pedestrian Signals

In December 2001,Portland completed a retrofit of all red, green, and flashing amber traffic signals in the City to light emitting diodes (LEDs). This long-lasting technology cuts the signal’s energy use by nearly 90 percent and extends the relamping cycles from two years to six years. 

Using an innovative lease-option purchase, the City ofPortland was able to complete the entire project -- more than 13,000 signal lamps -- in just three months and without any capital outlay. In fact, because of incentives offered by the local electric utilities, the City saw a positive cash flow of more than $700,000 in the very first year!

This project saves nearly 5 million kWh per year, enough energy to power more than 400 homes. That's cut the City’s energy costs by $335,000 per year. And, with the maintenance savings added in, the total savings are about $400,000 per year. The net payback after utility rebates are factored in, is just slightly over two years.  Read more in the LED Traffic Light case study.

The original phase was such a success the City has continued to invest in the LED technologies. In 2009, using a combination of EECBG and city funds, the  Traffic Management section of our Bureau of Transportation  installed  over 10,000 of the newest generation of LED traffic signals and about 3,700 pedestrian crosswalk signals.  The combined project saved an additional  681,000 kWh per year  - an amount of electricity equivalent to the annual usage of 60 Portland homes – and the bill savings total more than $ 61,000  per year.  

Peninsula Park  Energy and Historic Retrofit  

 Over 100 years ago, in 1910-12, Portland built the city's first community center at Peninsula Park. The center is popular for its outdoor swimming pool and classic rose gardens.  One original design feature that makes the center so pleasant and unique are large spans of windows - some as large as 12' x 18' - that provide wonderful daylighting.  However in the winter time the large spans of glass loose a huge amount of heat and making the public spaces very cold.  In 2011, Portland Parks and Recreation used federal grant funds to repair rotted wood, replace broken panes, replace hardware and add energy efficient storm windows to preserve the historic value of the windows, improve indoor comfort and help cut winter time heating bills. Peninsula Park's historic windows are "good to go" for many more years - maybe into the next century!


Renewable Energy Projects


Columbia Wastewater Treatment Micro Hydro & Fuel Cell

In July 1999, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) unveiled a methane-powered fuel cell at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Traditionally, sewage treatment plants flare off methane gas, a natural by-product of the sewage treatment process.  The fuel cell converted this “biogas” into clean, renewable electricity that helped provide uninterrupted power to one of the treatment plant's buildings. 

The 200-kW fuel cell was one of only a handful of fuel cells in the U.S. that operated on a renewable fuel. It produced about 1.4 million kilowatt-hours a year, enough to power nearly 120 homes and save the City about $58,000 a year.

In June of 2003 BES installed four microturbines that use the methane as a free fuel to generate electricity and heat that are used in the treatment plant’s operations. The microtrubines are a clean-burning technology with low emissions that cost $309,000 to install. Together they generate 120 kW and generate enough electricity to entirely power about 75 homes, saving an estimated $61,000 a year in electricity costs.

Vernon Water Storage Tank Micro Hydro

In 2012 The Portland Water Bureau installed a micro-hydro generation facility at its Vernon storage tank in NE Portland. The 15 kilowatt project generates approximately 150,000 kWh of electricity annually using the water pressure differential between the Vernon tank site and Mt.Tabor reservoirs.  Energy incentives from the US Department of Energy (ARRA), Energy Trust of Oregon and State of Oregon Business Energy Tax Credits are offset approximately half of the capital cost.

East Portland Community Center Photovoltaic Solar Electric System

A great example of collaboration between City of Portland bureaus and community partners, the Bureau of Parks and Recreation’s East Portland Community Center (EPCC) began generating electricity on its new aquatic center in 2009. Thanks to an innovative public/private financial arrangement referred to as a third-party ownership model, an 87-kilowatt (KW) solar electric system was added to the aquatics facility. In addition to the solar electric system, a solar water heating system to preheat water for the swim area’s showers was also installed.

The 87 KW electric system is expected to generate 96,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean renewable electricity every year. Over the next 20 years, the resulting carbon dioxide reduction is equivalent to more than 2,000,000 miles not driven. This 240-square-foot system will save the City about 580 therms of natural gas each year. The solar hot water system is expected to conserve an additional 580 therms of natural gas each year.

EPCC was designed by SERA Architects and Commercial Solar Ventures acted as Developer for the City of Portland Parks and Recreation. The project was made possible by an incentive of $150,500 for the solar electric system and $3,534 for the solar water heating system from Energy Trust of Oregon and a $100,000 grant from Portland General Electric. The total cost for the solar electric and solar water heating systems was $844,860.

The solar electric system was engineered, designed and installed by E C Company . The solar water heating system was designed and installed by Gen-Con Inc .  Other partners included the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), and US Bank.

Dishman Community Center

In October 2011, Portland Parks and Recreation completed construction of the city's seventh solar electric system - a 51 kilowatt photovoltaic system at Dishman Community Center, located on 77 NE Knott.  Designed and installed by EC Company, the system includes Solar World modules made in Hillsboro and a PV Powered inverter made in Bend.  This net metered system will produce about 48,000 kWh annually - enough electricity to power about five Portland homes.  One hundred percent of the power will be used at the Dishman Community Center, saving the Parks Bureau and local taxpayers $3,800 annually.  The system was built as a solar demonstration with technical support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Cities program and funding support from their Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant.

Water Bureau Solar

The Portland Water Bureau has installed two large solar electric systems, a 267-kilowatt system at the Columbia Groundwater Pump Station and a 12-kilowatt system on the roof of the Meter Shop. The bureau also utilizes solar energy at monitoring stations in remote locations in the Bull Run Watershed. Using solar technology at monitoring stations saves money and eliminates the need to use and store liquefied propane gas (LPG) in the Bull Run Watershed.


One of the most visible uses of solar power is in the downtown central business district and in the Lloyd District. The City has now replaced the majority of its single-space meters with multi-space, solar-powered SmartMeters.  SmartMeters work well even on our rainy, gray days and its two-way communication will alert the City of a technical problem immediately. Since the installation of the SmartMeters, the City has increased parking revenues by $1.5 million. More information is available at the Bureau of Transportation  website.

Sunderland Wind Turbine

The Sunderland Recycling Facility features a 10 kW wind turbine that generates enough power to serve the Sunderland office building, with excess power going to the grid.

City Uses Biofuels

The City of Portland has used high blends (from 20 to 99 percent) of regionally produced biodiesel in our diesel powered vehicles and equipment since 2007.  The City’s feet also contains flex fuel vehicles that can run on gasoline blends containing 85 percent ethanol.