How green is Portland, OR?

A city skyline during fall with a snowy mountain in the distant backdrop

Portland, Oregon. | Photo by @joeperaza_

Portland is recognized as one of the “greenest” cities in the US — but what does that actually mean? We’re breaking down some of Portland’s top environmental priorities to find out.

Energy

The City of Portland pledged to reduce its energy use by 2% each year. The most recent check-in found a 28% drop in energy use since fiscal year 2006-07. Projects like converting street lights to LED technology have helped, while population spikes have hindered that goal. Here’s a breakdown of the city’s energy consumption:

  • Fleet fuel, 28%
  • City facilities, 27%
  • Wastewater management, 20%
  • Water distribution, 12%
  • Parks, 7%
  • Street lights, 5%
  • Streetcar, 1%

Carbon emissions

Portland is on track to meet its goal to bring carbon emissions 53% lower than they were in 2006 by 2030, thanks in part to regional policies + big investments in renewable energy. It also doesn’t hurt that over 6% of Portlanders commute by bike.

Ecosystems

Portland Parks and Recreation manages the city’s natural areas, which add up to over 8,000 acres and include Forest Park and habitats along the Willamette River. Currently, 53% of city-managed areas are listed in “good” or “healthy” condition.

Water

The City of Portland used 550 million gallons of water in 2006. Water use has dropped to about 300 million gallons a year, thanks in part to water conservation efforts in parks + the Green Building Policy.

Waste

City leaders set a goal to recover 90% of waste from city operations by 2030 — and they’re on track to reaching it. This means composting food waste from places like fire stations, and recycling office electronics and construction materials.

Infrastructure

Portland uses “green” infrastructure to prevent stormwater from carrying dirt, oil, and other pollutants into waterways. Green streets, ecoroofs, trees, and other systems not only protect natural areas, they’re also easy on the eyes + help make Portland a “greener” city — literally.

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