PORTraits in Sustainability: Mia Yang, Project Engineer

by appell 11/17/2015 1:14 PM

In all organizations, employees are the greatest asset. In fact, the Port of Portland recently launched a new careers website with the tag line – “We’re not what you’d expect,” to welcome the next group of innovators.

Port of Portland commits to yearly environmental objectives and targets, applying the newest operational practices to advance organization-wide sustainability. Our success is the product of the skills and passions of our professional workforce. In this occasional series, we profile the people who make the difference – changing trade for good.

Learn more in the interview below with Mia Yang, Port of Portland Project Engineer, who works in Energy Management.

Describe your educational and professional background.

I have a B.S. in Environmental Science from University of Washington and a M.S. in Renewable Energy Engineering from Oregon Institute of Technology. Interesting part-time positions I’ve had include being a park ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park and a forestry technician in South Dakota’s Black Hills for the U.S. Forest Service.

What drew your interest in a Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) career?

My family inspired an interest in nature in me. In my hometown of Xi’an in Shaanxi, China, I had early experiences with the natural world – discovering different plants and tiny creatures in the forest.   As my educational career advanced, I switched from Forestry to Engineering.  I want to implement the solutions.  Working in the engineering field you can help solve the problems that could impact the big picture, like reduce our global dependency on fossil fuels – it’s a different way of approaching environmental change.

Describe some of your primary projects at the Port.

I coordinate the Port’s involvement with the Strategic Energy Management program through the Energy Trust of Oregon, ensuring that the Port meets its energy reduction goals. For example, I work on night audits to verify building and individual work stations power down nightly, and make adjustments or give feedback as needed. I also analyze building systems to look for operational level changes to reduce energy consumption. 

In addition, I work both internally with the design team and externally with Energy Trust of Oregon to ensure Port’s new constructions – Rental Car Quick Turnaround facility and Concourse E extension – implement energy efficient measures and receive incentives for this effort. Overall, The Port’s investment and commitment to energy efficiency continually impresses me!

What innovative trends do you see in your field?

I recently learned about the solar road – instead of concrete, solar panels are installed as roadway. They are structurally built to allow for car passage, and collect solar energy and convert it to electricity.  California is piloting them in the Los Angeles area.  In addition, the overall industrial trend is moving towards sustainable design by incorporating not only passive design techniques but also renewable energy into applications. 

What “Green Tips” would you give to fellow Oregonians?

Make sure your home is well-insulated; inspect the windows and doors as less air infiltration saves energy. Be sure to seal any cracks or openings you see. Change to energy-efficient CFL and LED light bulbs is another quick and effective way to cut down your monthly power bill.  If you are upgrading appliances look for Energy Star certified options. The U.S. Department of Energy and Energy Trust of Oregon are great resources for homeowner tips and savings opportunities. 


Portland-area airports lead in reducing carbon emissions

by appell 10/20/2015 10:40 AM

Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) once again recognized Portland International, Hillsboro and Troutdale Airports for leadership in managing carbon emissions. First achieving Airport Carbon Accreditation in 2014, Port of Portland’s airports are a part of an elite group of 10 certified facilities in North America who actively manage carbon and achieve measurable carbon reductions.

Globally, the Airport Carbon Accreditation program provides a framework for airports to reduce carbon emissions from their operations with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral. The program champions the voluntary and collective efforts worldwide as the most credible and internationally-recognized structure for active carbon managementThe Port joins 125 other leading airports in 40 countries across the world in accreditation.

In 2009, the Port committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020The Port’s systematic and aggressive environmental management system sets yearly targets to meet that goal. For example, in 2015 the Port added six more compressed natural gas shuttle buses to its fleet for a total of 30 buses that serve PDX.

Since 2011, the Port has reduced electricity consumption by over 27 million kilowatt hours per year and reduced carbon emissions by over 21 thousand metric tons. The cumulative effect of energy efficiency upgrades, cleaner fuels and engines, renewable energy credit purchases and advanced metering has allowed the Port to achieve a 65 percent reduction in carbon emissions, far exceeding the original 15 percent reduction goal.  

Port carbon and energy accounting featured at annual GoGreen conference

by timmel 10/10/2012 9:04 AM

If you are planning to attend the fifth annual GoGreen Portland conference this Thursday at the Left Bank Annex, come check out Port of Portland Facilities Services Division Manager, Franko Martinec presenting about the Port's carbon footprint reduction and energy management strategy. Franko will be joined by Good Company's Aaron Toneys for a workshop entitled, Feet on the Ground or Head in the Clouds? Guidance from the Front Lines of Carbon and Energy Accounting. The session includes an overview of considerations for compiling a carbon footprint inventory and features the Port of Portland as a case study for analyzing opportunities to reduce carbon at an organizational level. 

In 2009, Port of Portland Commissioners adopted a target for the Port to achieve a 15 percent reduction below 1990 carbon levels by 2020. To begin working towards this ambitious goal, the Port created a carbon footprint reduction and energy management master plan. The process culminated in the development of a software tool that allows the Port to identify opportunities for carbon reduction and build portfolios of actions necessary to meet the target. The Port is a founding member of The Climate Registry and has been reporting carbon emissions since 2008. 


X Marks the Improved Air Quality Spot

by wrayr 4/19/2011 11:18 AM

When Portland International Airport’s south runway was closed for rehabilitation in early April, the project team prepared to set up “closing crosses” – large, lighted Xs on either end of the runway that alert aircraft pilots that the runway is not available for landing. The crosses, which are approximately 15 feet high, are on 24-hours a day, seven days a week, until the runway reopens to aircraft later this summer.

The typical power sources for runway cross lights are diesel-powered generators. Renee Dowlin, aviation air quality program manager, and Glen Moe, construction contracts manager, realized that the duration of the runway rehabilitation project meant the generators would run upwards of 3,500 hours each between April and August. Instead, they worked with their Port colleagues to run electrical power out to the runway ends, which ultimately connects the lights to cleaner sources of electricity (the Port purchases 100 percent certified renewable energy credits). Further, the crosses are now connected to back-up power, so in the event the electricity went out, they’d remain on to remind pilots that construction is occurring.

The south runway project is a major airfield endeavor, and Port environmental staff has been closely involved behind the scenes. Construction contracts require the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel in construction equipment, while the project team encourages anti-idling measures and is using two new hybrid escort vehicles.