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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 Efficiency

2030 Objective: Reduce energy use in City operations 2 percent annually

Holding Steady

Decades of smart design and consistent investment in energy efficiency upgrades have helped the City to reduce overall energy use six percent since FY 06-07. The City has made great strides increasing efficiency in street lighting, buildings and water pumping operations. Yet we also face a few significant challenges towards achieving our energy efficiency goal.

City operations are expanding in many areas in response to Portland’s population growth. This can make gains in energy efficiency difficult to achieve.

The City continues to identify ways to:

  • Reduce the energy use intensity of buildings (EUI is defined as energy use per square foot),
  • Increase the efficiency of the water distribution and wastewater management systems,
  • Adopt new, efficient technologies where appropriate.

Reduction in energy use compared to goal

In the most recent reporting year (FY 15-16), the City’s overall energy use increased 4.6 percent from the prior year. Weather played a key role in the past year’s jump in energy use; a warmer-than-average summer coincided with an increased frequency of storm events in the fall and winter. The result was a large increase in groundwater pumping, irrigation and storm water processing. These activities increase energy use in City operations.

Warmer summer temperatures and increased frequency of storms are two forecasted local impacts of climate change. As these local impacts become the “new normal,” the need to consistently maintain and improve the energy efficiency of the City’s infrastructure will take on increased importance.

Total energy use by sector: Fiscal Year 2015-16

Supporting projects

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is converting 45,000 street lights to Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. This project is the single largest energy efficiency project at the City to date; the LED conversion will save 20 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and $1.5 million annually, while drastically reducing maintenance requirements.  

The Portland Building is pursuing Path to Net Zero energy use in its upcoming renovation, due to be completed by 2020. Path to Net Zero aligns with the Architecture 2030 Challenge energy reduction standard and is attained by achieving approximately 40 percent savings over Oregon energy code.