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. 


10 tips for a greener office from the Port’s sustainability experts

by appell 11/3/2015 1:59 PM

The City of Portland recently recognized the Port of Portland’s headquarters building for environmental excellence through the Sustainability at Work Certification program. It takes 45 actions to achieve “Gold” status and the Port achieved more than 60! The Port’s platinum LEED-certified building helps the organization exceed many requirements. Yet offices large and small can implement some of the Port’s sustainable workplace strategies. Here are some suggestions for your office:

  1. Use power strips with a personal occupancy sensor, so electronics shut-off when not in use (think  speakers, monitors or heaters)
  2. Use a small garbage can and a large recycling container
  3. Add aerators to faucets or upgrade to water-efficient fixtures
  4. Provide secure bike storage
  5. Offer preferred parking for high-efficiency vehicles and carpools
  6. Allow for telecommuting options or a compressed work week
  7. Serve lunch meetings “family-style,” so there is not individual packaging for sandwiches
  8. If you are a tenant in a building, work with the property manager and co-tenants to have a team approach
  9. Offer a reward system and publically recognize sustainable behavior 
  10. Provide separate containers for composting food waste

A living machine that treats wastewater, a fleet of hybrid and electric vehicles, and the PDX food donation program also make the Port’s program unique. The City made certification criteria more stringent in 2015 and requires renewal every three years. Each category of information and education, materials and waste, energy, and transportation now has required elements to make sure each certified organization applies the most important strategies. Learn more on the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at Work website.

Providing a small garbage can and large recycling container can help employees reduce waste.

The HQ Living Machine recycles 750,000 gallons of wastewater each year.

Lighting the way with efficiency

by appell 9/15/2015 9:04 AM

How do you reduce energy consumption at a port? Look at the lights. Fall 2015 marks the beginning of a two-year project to invest in new energy efficient LED lighting across Port facilities. While new lighting may seem like a small change, it adds up to big energy savings.  The new upgrades will reduce power consumption – saving 1,020 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually!

The project converts old lighting to new LED lighting, swapping them out on existing poles at marine terminals, Portland International Airport (PDX) parking lots, roadways and maintenance facilities.  The new lighting affects over 80acres of parking lot and 30acres of roadway and includes wireless lighting control capabilities.

LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode, and they use 60% less energy than traditional lighting. LEDs are tiny! How small? The size of a pin tip, or only a few millimeters. Their lamp life is three to four times longer, reducing maintenance and waste.

LEDs can also illuminate more targeted areas, preventing light pollution. In designing upgrades at the Port, engineers conducted a photometric analysis evaluating the illumination “footprint” to make sure lights brighten only the needed areas.

Bright white LED light also provides safety advantages for roadways and public parking lots. For example, it won’t be so hard to find a red car at night as their light quality mimics daylight, making colors easier to distinguish. 

The Port’s energy efficiency upgrades link to a broader strategy to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions across all facilities. The project supports the Port’s 2020 aggressive goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to less than 15% of 1990 levels.

Stay tuned as the Port’s environmental programs implement more conservation projects to achieve environmental objectives and targets.

For more information on installing LED lights at your own home, visit the U.S. Department of Energy website:  http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/led-lighting.

Port partners with Energy Trust of Oregon

by bielem 4/7/2015 11:30 AM


When it comes to saving money through energy efficiency, it pays to learn from the experts. That’s why the Port of Portland is participating in the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management program. The cohort-based, two year program has helped organizations such as Intel, the City of Portland and Nike identify energy use behavior changes that routinely lead to significant cost savings.

The Port’s goal: achieve energy savings of 3-5% in seven enrolled buildings within two years. If successful, the Port will receive incentives of $.02 for every kilowatt hour of electrical energy use reduction and $.20 for every therm of natural gas use reduction.

To learn how to meet that target, the Port’s cohort – which includes Metro, Clackamas County, Portland Community College, Mt. Hood Community College and the City of Gresham – participates in monthly conference calls and bi-monthly meetings to learn from the Energy Trust and each other.

To know what to change, the Port first has to more fully understand its current energy usage. A baseline is established by collecting data on the current energy use patterns of participating buildings. Once collected, the data is combed through to find potential opportunities for cost savings.

Part of the program’s business appeal is that its focus is on behavior change, rather than costly new infrastructure or equipment. Once potential energy use changes are identified, the program’s managers at the Port will turn their efforts to communicating the message and generating buy-in among employees. Baselining and data gathering will end in October 2015, from which point the Port will have one year to achieve the 3-5% energy reduction target.

The emphasis on energy efficiency isn’t new to the Port. The Port has been collecting energy use data since 2001 and began its Carbon Reduction Initiative in 2009, with the goal of reducing the Port’s carbon footprint 15% below 1990 levels by 2020. The Port’s LEED Platinum-certified headquarters building features such energy-efficient features as a closed-loop ground source heating and cooling system, and a system that optimizes the use of sunlight for interior lighting.

Franko Martinec, the Port’s liaison with the Energy Trust, is confident the program will be able to successfully build on the Port’s culture of conservation and responsibility, and spread positive environmental impact and financial cost savings throughout Port facilities.

“I have a lot of hope that this information will enlighten us about our energy use and that we’ll be able to use it to teach Port employees and, eventually, tenants and the airlines to more effectively conserve energy.”




Green initiatives at airports and seaports

by timmel 7/3/2014 3:45 PM

Interested in learning about the latest and greatest developments in green initiatives at airports and seaports? The information is at your fingertips thanks to two research papers that highlight green initiatives across the United States and the world. The intent of both of these papers is to help provide solutions to common problems for airport and seaport terminal operators. The papers provide the additional benefit of offering the general public a glimpse into the challenges and best environmental practices in place at these facilities.  

Outcomes of Green Initiatives: Large Airport Experience, A Synthesis of Airport Practice was published earlier this year by the Airport Cooperative Research Program, with sponsorship from the Federal Aviation Administration. The paper is based on a literature review as well as surveys of 15 mostly large hub airports across the United States, including Portland International Airport. It discusses overall trends as well as unique case examples from many of the airports surveyed.

Environmental Initiatives at Seaports Worldwide: A Snapshot of Best Practices was first released in 2010 and later updated in August 2013. The Port of Portland and the International Institute for Sustainable Seaports teamed up to develop the white paper describing a broad array of environmental initiatives at seaports across the globe. It describes the geographic, community, financial and regulatory drivers that impact port decision-making related to sustainability and environmental management initiatives. It is based on interviews with port authorities, online research, literature reviews and other publicly available reports.



Year in Review: 2013 Port Community and Environmental Highlights

by timmel 12/27/2013 4:14 PM

It wouldn’t be the end of another year without taking some time for reflection. It’s been a busy twelve months and here are just a few highlights from the Port of Portland in the field of community and the environment in 2013:

Though the Port's headquarters received a Gold certification through the City of Portland's Sustainability at Work program, the beginning of 2013 also saw the kick-off of Port's Sustainability Integration Team, charged with internally promoting the triple bottom line concept of sustainability throughout the organization.

In February, the Port’s existing sustainability efforts drew international attention from the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, charged with planning infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Their main question during their stop in Portland on a U.S. West Coast trade mission: “What is it about Portland that makes people care so much about sustainability and the environment?”  

In the spirit of sustainability, the Port launched a Stormwater Master Plan effort to gain a comprehensive understanding of existing stormwater infrastructure at Portland International Airport and other Port facilities. The work will allow the Port to more efficiently and effectively manage stormwater infrastructure, keeping our facilities operational while protecting water quality.

After 10 years with a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan in place at PDX, Port staff completed an update to the document. The 2003 Plan was the first bike and pedestrian plan in the nation developed specifically for a commercial airport. The plan update will be released in the new year and contains recommendations based on outreach to local transportation agencies, airport employees, and the public 

This year also marked the 10-year anniversary of a partnership between the Port and Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services program. Throughout the last decade, CES student consultants have contributed to incredible innovations in waste minimization at PDX and other Port facilities.

CES contributed to the launch of a food donation program at PDX in February. In its first eight months, the program has already contributed 32,600 pounds of food - equivalent to almost 22,000 meals – to local meals service providers. Though a few other airports have food donation programs, PDX’s program was so well executed that it received this year’s Green Concessions Award from Airports Council International-North America. The program was also featured as one of a handful of stops for United Nations Environment Programme delegates during their visit to Portland for World Environment Day in June. 

In 2013, the Port continued to participate in the Healthy Purchasing Coalition, coordinated by the Oregon Environmental Council, which allows local governments to share information about best practices in avoiding hazardous or toxic materials. The Port adopted its own Sustainable Procurement Policy this year to help guide purchasing decisions.  

In February, the Port contributed to a highly collaborative restoration project in Elrod Slough. The effort leveraged funds and resources from the Port, the Multnomah County Drainage District, the City of Portland’s Revegetation Program, and nonprofits Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Friends of Trees and Verde. Port staff got their hands dirty volunteering at Elrod Slough and at a neighboorhood tree planting with Friends of Trees in March. In October, Port staff volunteered with SOLVE and Friends of Baltimore Woods at the Baltimore Woods Connectivity Corridor, just up the hill from our marine Terminal 4. We look forward to seeing all the many trees and saplings that were planted take root and thrive in the coming years.  

Out in east Multnomah County, the Port continued to work with the City of Gresham on the 221-acre Gresham Vista Business Park. With some grant funding from Metro, the team is working on a framework for eco-industrial development. If successful, the framework could result in a roadmap for other developers in the region to create projects resulting in economic, social and ecological benefits.

Though the Port consistently earns high marks for its purchase of 100 percent renewable power, efficiency and conservation remained a high priority in 2013. The Dredge Oregon, which maintains the Columbia River navigation channel, was brought in for the second and final phase of engine repowering. PDX maintenance staff replaced close to 1,000 older, incandescent light bulbs with more efficient LED versions in Concourse C and in some of the hundreds of signs around the airport. The Port added a parking guidance system to the long-term parking garage. A similar system is already in place in the short-term garage and aside from being a popular customer service feature, it helps cut emissions from vehicles searching for a parking spot. Electric vehicle charging stations were also added to the short-term garage.  

And finally, the Port’s carpet replacement project has garnered a substantial amount of attention over the last several weeks. The project will replace the existing carpet which is over 20 years old. The Port is currently considering recycling, reuse and repurposing options for the carpet once it is removed. If you’d like to stay up to date on the fate of the carpet, sign up on the Port’s carpet email notification list.

Happy New Year from the Port of Portland!

Celebrate World Environment Day with the PDX Sustainability Tour

by timmel 5/13/2013 12:49 PM

World Environment Day is Wednesday, June 5 and Portland has been selected as the 2013 North American host city. To celebrate this great honor bestowed by the United Nations, there are many great events happening all over Portland leading up to the big day.

The Port will host a walking tour of Portland International Airport and portions of our LEED Platinum headquarters building on World Environment Day. Join us and learn about the many sustainability solutions in place at PDX. Whether it's reducing waste or our carbon footprint, providing alternate transportation options or using natural systems to treat wastewater onsite, there's a lot to be proud of at Portland's gateway to the world. The PDX Sustainability Tour will take place June 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. To RSVP or for more information, email lisa.timmerman@portofportland.com.

Supreme Committee visits Port HQ

by timmel 3/1/2013 9:57 AM

The Port of Portland received a visit last week from the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee during their U.S. trade mission to the West Coast. The committee is responsible for planning infrastructure improvements for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and plans to renovate three stadiums and build nine new stadiums, open a new international airport, expand its container port facility and expand its light rail and highway systems ahead of the event.

The delegation was led by U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Susan L. Ziadeh and Qatar Secretary General, Hassan Al-Thawadi. The group also visited Los Angeles and Seattle. Other stops during their stay in Portland included Nike and Jeld-Wen Field.

While at Port headquarters, the group toured our LEED Platinum building to learn more about its energy and water saving features, like our Living Machine®. Executive Director Bill Wyatt described Port operations in general and discussed the Port's sustainability efforts including parking guidance and QuickPay parking payment system that help reduce emissions from idling vehicles. The group, which had many questions even at the end of a long day touring Portland, was particularly interested in what drives the culture around sustainability in Portland. 


The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee (some sporting their Portland Timbers scarves) with Port Executive Director Bill Wyatt and Jennifer Woods, U.S. Department of Commerce

Related Links

Port HQ Goes LEED Platinum

by wrayr 6/14/2011 4:53 PM

It’s official: The Port’s new headquarters building at Portland International Airport has received LEED® Platinum certification. Established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute, LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.


For Port staff working in the building over the past year, the award reconfirms what we experience everyday: that green buildings are great places to work. Port executive director Bill Wyatt, who occupies an open workspace the same size as the employees he oversees, said, “The LEED platinum certification affirms the goal we set out at the beginning of the project: that the building reflect this region’s commitment to sustainability.”


The 205,000-square foot office building incorporates many state-of-the-art green technologies, but the one we are asked about the most is the Living Machine® system, an on-site ecological wastewater treatment alternative that treats 100 percent of the building’s wastewater for reuse in the building’s toilets and cooling tower. If you’ve ever visited the Port building, you’ve walked right by it: it’s the innocuous-looking planter in the first-floor lobby.


Underneath the building, more than 200 pipes provide ground source heating and cooling in a closed loop system, serving the passive radiant ceiling panel heating and cooling inside. This is the first coupling of these heating and cooling systems in the United States, and the result is a comfortable temperature year-round.


Other green features—daylighting, window glazing, exterior shading, water-efficient fixtures, and two green roofs—are detailed on the Port’s HQ website, where you can take a virtual tour!



Port HQ Receives BEST Award

by wrayr 4/19/2011 11:43 AM

The Port of Portland was thrilled to receive the Green Building Award at the City of Portland’s 19th annual Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Awards Breakfast. The awards were presented by the BEST Business Center and City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

The BEST Awards recognize organizations demonstrating a commitment to excellence in sustainable business practices. The Port was in fine company: other winners included the Portland Trail Blazers/Rose Quarter, Coffee Bean International, DeSantis Landscapes, Barbur Storage, Doubletree Hotel, and B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery.

The Port’s award recognized the green building techniques that went into our new headquarters building. Mayor Sam Adams cited the building’s water and energy conservation measures, including the Living Machine Wastewater Treatment System. Greg Sparks, engineering project development manager with the Port, thanked the crowd for the recognition and noted that the building couldn’t have been built without the support and vision of countless people, from Port leadership to talented firms to the hundreds of employees who show up for work each day at the building.