To fly or to drive? Energy intensity data provides some insight

by Lisa Timmerman 2/3/2014 9:01 AM

Ever wondered whether it's more fuel efficient to fly or drive over long distances? The answer isn't always straightforward and involves a number of factors, as well as personal choices and preferences. A recent article from The Atlantic offers one explanation based on data recently collected by University of Michigan professor, Michael Sivak. To compare travel modes, the data focuses on energy intensity, or the total amount of energy it takes to move one person one mile. Commercial aviation has seen tremendous energy efficiency improvements over the last 40 years, particularly compared to passenger vehicles which have, on the whole, become less fuel efficient. Better fuel efficiency is certainly a part of the equation, but planes also now fit more passengers and rarely depart with empty seats. The trend is reflected here at PDX. In 2013, PDX had a record-breaking travel year with 15 million passengers. The number of travelers increased 4.4 percent over 2012. At the same time, flight operations - the number of planes coming and going from the airport - remained almost flat with only a 0.1 percent increase.

Which travel mode is right for you? Read The Atlantic's article and decide for yourself.

www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2014/01/driving-actually-less-energy-efficient-flying/8145/

 

Upcycling pallets for PICA

by Lisa Timmerman 1/9/2014 10:21 AM

In addition to assisting with recycling and composting efforts at Portland International Airport, the Port of Portland’s waste minimization team identifies opportunities for repurposing materials, or upcycling. Upcycling is the reuse of a material in its current or near-current form, using less energy than the reprocessing commonly associated with standard recycling. Wood pallets are one of many materials the Port collects in hopes of upcycling. Pallets arrive with deliveries to PDX and they accumulate in PDX’s central waste collection area. The PDX pallets made an artful appearance at the 2013 Time Based Art Festival, sponsored by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

This year’s TBA festival took place in a 40,000 square foot warehouse at Con-way’s Northwest Portland facility, and the pallets were an ideal option for the industrial chic theme. Because the TBA Festival works with a nominal budget, donated wood pallets were an excellent option for constructing temporary structures such as a bar and stairs. Claire Papas, a member of the 2013 TBA festival design/build team noted that, “the use of pallets was a nod to the history of the building.” Con-way is a freight transportation and logistics company.

With the help of GBD Architects, the design/build team crafted the almost 300 pallets of various sizes and shapes into steps, signage, a 20-foot long greeting table, a 40-foot long bar, and two additional 20-foot long bars. When the dust settled and the festival ended, the team dismantled the structures and listed the pallets for free on craigslist.org, where they could be re-used once again. Thanks, in part, to the donated pallets, the community-based project came in under budget.

Thanks to Mark Kenseth of the Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project for contributing this story.  

 

(Photo credit: Brian Lee, Brewhouse

Year in Review: 2013 Port Community and Environmental Highlights

by Lisa Timmerman 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 continues to work 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!

Digging in at Baltimore Woods

by Lisa Timmerman 11/8/2013 2:56 PM

Port of Portland staff and their friends and families spent a sunny morning in October volunteering alongside SOLVE, Friends of Baltimore Woods and St. Johns residents.  The group of 50 volunteers planted 500 native tree and plant species at the gateway to the Baltimore Woods Connectivity Corridor. The corridor is located in North Portland and stretches between Pier Park and Cathedral Park, in the shadow of the St. Johns Bridge. Friends of Baltimore Woods has been working tirelessly with the help of local government agencies, nonprofits, and a small army of volunteers to restore the rare remnant patch of oak forest and to create a future greenway. In addition to the ecological and recreational benefits the site provides, it also serves as a buffer between industrial land uses along the Willamette River, including the Port’s marine Terminal 4, and nearby St. Johns residential neighborhoods.

We look forward to watching the little saplings as they grow!

 

Ecoroof buzzes with activity

by Lisa Timmerman 8/9/2013 5:05 PM

About a year and a half ago, bees showed up in force on the roof of the Port of Portland's LEED Platinum headquarters building thanks to project development manager and apiary enthusiast, Greg Sparks. The Port's Annie Linstrom heralded their arrival in a post on this blog in February 2012. This week, Public Affairs intern, Jayson Shanafelt provides an update on how the bees are doing.

The Port's LEED Platinum headquarters building is renowned for its sustainable features. Visitors from across the globe have toured the building to see and learn about its living machine and other environmental attributes. What visitors may not realize is that one year ago, the Port installed a second living machine—a beehive on the 10th floor eco roof, now home to roughly 70,000 honey bees.

Visible from inside the building, the hive serves as an educational opportunity, allowing employees and HQ visitors to observe an active bee colony up close. The intent of establishing this safe haven for the bees was, in part, to increase awareness of the critical role they play in our everyday lives. Nearly one-third of the U.S. diet is incumbent on honey bee pollination, yet their populations are on the decline.

"It is always a point of interest for tour groups. I feel they come away with a better appreciation and understanding of how important honey bees are to our food production," said Greg Sparks, project development manager and the Port's resident beekeeper. "The main question people want to know is 'How are they doing?'"

Sparks confesses that when the hive was installed, he wasn't sure if the height of the building would be detrimental to foraging worker bees, which at times can travel up to two miles for food. "It has been a happy discovery. The height doesn't seem to have deterred them. They are doing quite well, which is a good thing to see."

The beehive structure is taller than it used to be. Sparks decided to add an additional box to the hive after recently observing the colony's health. "They need to have the room," Sparks said, noting that the bees easily have produced 100 pounds of honey."

Interest generated from the hive has even inspired several Port staff to start their own apiaries (honey bee colonies). "I sense that many Port staff take pride in having this unique feature at our already impressive building," said Sparks.

 

Alderwood Path repair complete

by Lisa Timmerman 7/18/2013 1:09 PM

 

Alderwood Path completed repair work - July 2013

The Alderwood Path, a multi-use trail that runs through Portland International Center, is now reopoened. The Port of Portland just completed follow-up repair work on the trail. The trail had become severely damaged by tree root upheaval in several locations. In February, the Port removed some trees that were posing a present and future upheaval risk to the path. The repair work consisted of repaving the path and installing root barriers in some locations to prevent future damage. Tha path consists of two segments - one runs along a natural area, while the other parallels the Columbia Slough. The improved path is ready just in time for cyclists and walkers alike to enjoy the beautiful weather.

  

 Alderwood Path prior to repair work - January 2013 

Port and Portland State University celebrate 10 years of success and innovation

by Lisa Timmerman 6/12/2013 4:19 PM

It takes a special kind of person to be willing to dig through the garbage on a regular basis. Thanks to a partnership with Portland State University, this week marks the tenth year that those special people have been making a difference at Portland International Airport. Through PSU’s Community Environmental Services program, student consultants work for the Port of Portland in one- or two-year terms and work alongside Port staff to gain experience solving real-life waste management problems. Although they serve all Port facilities, they focus on the Port’s primary waste generator - PDX. The airport is like a small city with 10,000 employees and 35,000 people passing through every day. It's a unique setting for developing innovative and creative waste solutions on a large-scale.

Through the students' long-standing support, the Port has made incredible strides in reducing waste. They have played a large role in designing and implementing PDX’s waste collection systems and composting program. They have been involved in researching recycling options for coffee cups, conducting waste assessments for airlines and airport terminal tenants and holding annual clean up events for tenants to find ways to recycle and repurpose large and bulky items. Most recently, the students helped launch a highly successful food donation program through St. Vincent dePaul of Portland and helped redesign liquid collection stations at security checkpoints, dramatically increasing their use by travelers.

The partnership truly provides benefits for both the Port and PSU students. “I attribute the longevity and success of this program to two things: the Port’s impressive commitment to keep pushing the needle forward on these issues, and the great students that CES continues to attract. I can’t think of a better embodiment of PSU’s motto, 'Let Knowledge Serve the City,'" says Eric T. Crum, director of the CES program.

Although the program has been in place for many years, there is no typical day for a CES student working at the Port. They do everything from collecting and managing data, to running outreach and education campaigns, to rolling their sleeves up and conducting waste sorts that determine where there are opportunities for program improvements. Their versatility is invaluable and we look forward to another ten years of success and collaboration.

For more information on the partnership between PSU and the Port and a full list of the students’ accomplishments, visit: www.pdx.edu

For additional news on the partnership's anniversary, visit:
PDX.edu
Oregon Live

Celebrate World Environment Day with the PDX Sustainability Tour

by Lisa Timmerman 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.

Less Waste, More Food

by Lisa Timmerman 4/4/2013 1:10 PM

According to a Natural Resources Defense Council report released last year, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten. The statistic is particularly alarming considering the amount of people that go hungry every day. Port of Portland staff recognized an opportunity in our own backyard and recently launched a food donation program, facilitating partnership between St. Vincent de Paul and concessionaires at Portland International Airport. The program encourages food and beverage vendors in the airport terminal to divert unsold, ready-to-eat food products to the local charitable organization. Products include sandwiches, salads, parfaits, baked goods and uncut produce.

The program launched in February and PDX concessionaires donated so much food that by the end of the first pickup day on February 5th, the Port and St. Vincent's staff needed to round up a second donation storage refrigerator. In the first two months of collection, donations weighed in at 2,760 pounds of food - equivalent to more than 1,830 meals. The food ends up with social service providers City Team Ministries, Northwest Family Services and St. Vincent's mobile full-service kitchen.

"This is a win-win for local communities in need and for the airport, too," said Walt Marchbanks, Port concessions operations manager.

Not only is the program matching high quality food with agencies that can distribute it, it's removing food items that serve a higher and better purpose from the waste stream at PDX. In 2012, PDX collected a record 201 tons of food waste for composting. By continuing to donate at least 50 to 100 pounds of high quality food to St. Vincent’s three times a week, the program could divert 5 to 10 percent of what would have ultimately ended up in the compost stream.

 

Support your local tree with two great volunteer events

by Lisa Timmerman 3/7/2013 2:32 PM

Once again, we have a few great volunteer events coming up in March through our community partners. Want an excuse to get out and get your hands dirty and support Portland's urban tree canopy?

  

Saturday, March 9, The Forest Park Conservancy will hold its Spring Day of Stewardship from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The Forest Park Conservancy is a dedicated non-profit charged with protecting and fostering the ecological health of Forest Park, maintaining and enhancing the park's extensive trail network, and inspiring community appreciation and future stewardship of the park. The Port is sponsorsing the event this year. Join 200 other volunteers in Forest Park helping to restore native habitat in and around the park. The volunteer work party will be followed by a volunteer appreciation party at the Mission Theater with food, drinks and raffle prizes. The event is open to anyone, but pre-registration is required.

 

Saturday, March 30, Friends of Trees will hold a neighborhood tree planting in the Beaumont-Wilshire, Cully and Roseway neighborhoods. The Port provides Friends of Trees with funding support annually for tree canopy enhancements in neighborhoods around PDX and within the Columbia Slough watershed. This is a large-scale planting, so the more, the merrier. Volunteers should arrive at the Morningstar Missionary Church by 8:45 a.m. to enjoy some hot coffee and breakfast treats. The planting starts promptly at 9 a.m. FOT will provide gloves and tools, so all you need to do is show up dressed for the weather and wearing sturdy shoes. A potluck lunch will also be provided for all volunteers after the planting is complete. You do not need to RSVP for the event.

 

 

Port staff and their families participate in a Friends of Trees tree planting