Still porous after all these years

by Lisa Timmerman 8/13/2014 4:43 PM

 

The Portland metropolitan region leads the nation in innovative solutions for managing stormwater. It's common to see bioswales installed in curb strips across the city and traditional impervious pavement is more often being replaced with alternatives that allow stormwater to filter through the surface. So, it's not surprising that last week the city of Portland hosted StormCon, an annual conference that draws stormwater management professionals from across the country to learn and share best practices and the latest developments in the field. The conference culminated with a tour of stormwater facilities at the Port of Portland and the Port of Vancouver.  

In 2006, the Port of Portland installed just over 35 acres of porous pavement at Terminal 6 in North Portland when tenant, Auto Warehousing Company wanted to rapidly expand their existing vehicle import and storage operation. Their short timeframe set the stage for a creative solution involving a large-scale installation capable of infiltrating 100 percent of the stormwater from the new development on-site. Porous pavement allows stormwater to filter through the ground instead of conveying it through a system of drains, pipes and outfalls, improving water quality and allowing water to flow more slowly and naturally to a receiving waterbody. It is still a relatively new practice, compared to the traditional impervious paving common to the many ribbons of roadways and acres of parking lots across the country.

The StormCon tour, sponsored by Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, consisted of about 80 participants who visited Terminal 6 to witness first-hand that a well-constructed pervious pavement installation can function successfully in an industrial environment when matched with an appropriate site use. Due to its structure, porous pavement is not often used in industrial operations since it cannot as readily handle the impacts of heavy cargo and machinery. AWC's auto storage lot was a great fit due to the primarily light passenger vehicles that move across its surface. The lot is visited by heavier trucks that load and haul the cars away to their destinations, and those loading areas were designed with stronger impervious pavement that drains to the pervious surfaces or to adjacent vegetated swales.  

To function properly over time, a porous pavement installation must be thoughtfully constructed and maintained. I’ve been observing how the facility pavement functions for almost a decade now and it performs as well today as it did when I first visited the site in 2007," said tour sponsor and stormwater practice leader for Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Ross Dunning. "The T-6 installation is a shining example of low impact development done right and the most successful permeable pavement installation I’ve ever seen.”

Tour participants were treated to a demonstration of the installation's effectiveness by Richard Vincent, senior environmental planner for the Port of Portland, which can be viewed in the video below.

 

Related Links

Terminal 6 porous pavement project featured in Land & Water Magazine

The Green Side: Terminal 6 Paves the Way to Infiltration

VALE grant keeps passengers moving with lower emissions

by Lisa Timmerman 7/31/2014 2:09 PM

Portland International Airport's shuttle bus fleet will continue to be entirely powered by cleaner burning compressed natural gas thanks to a Voluntary Airport Low Emission Program grant awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration. The grant money will be used to purchase six CNG buses that transport airport passengers and employees from the terminal to parking and rental car facilities.

The grant was announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx yesterday. “[The] announcement supports President Obama’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution and increase the deployment of cleaner, alternative fuel technologies,” said Secretary Foxx. “It complements broad efforts across the FAA to expand the development and use of new technologies for aviation fuels that will benefit human health and the environment.”

 

The FAA began the VALE program in 2005 to help airport sponsors meet their air quality responsibilities under the Clean Air Act. The program also supports the objectives of the President's Climate Action Plan. “We applaud Portland International Airport’s efforts to become a better steward of the environment,” FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta said. “This project will allow the airport to realize immediate emission-reduction benefits for the airport and surrounding communities.”

  

For more information, visit the VALE website.

 

 

Green initiatives at airports and seaports

by Lisa Timmerman 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.

       

 

Bike to PDX with the Wheels to Wings Ride

by Lisa Timmerman 6/11/2014 9:47 AM

It's June and that means it's time once again for Portland's three-week celebration of all things bike - Pedalpalooza!

Did you know that you can ride your bike to Portland International Airport? As part of Pedalpalooza we will lead a Wheels to Wings ride on Wednesday, June 25, starting at 9:30 a.m. The ride will take the leisurely route along the I-205 Bike Path and eventually connect with the dedicated multi-use path that leads up to the terminal building.

Upon arrival at PDX, participants will get a quick tour of existing bicycle amenities and learn more about future plans included in a recent update to the PDX Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. PDX is one of the few airports in the country that provides direct access to its terminal building by bicycle. It was also the first commercial airport to develop a bike and pedestrian master plan in 2003.

Visit the Wheels to Wings Ride entry on the official Pedalpalooza wiki site for more details about the ride. There is no need to sign-up, just show up with your bike and safety gear.

 

Joining the ranks and sustaining partnerships

by Lisa Timmerman 6/10/2014 8:52 AM

The Port of Portland participated for the first time this year in the Oregon Business magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon sixth annual survey which ranks workplaces according to anonymous employee responses and an assessment of stated employer benefits. The Port came in at #58 in the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon category. The rankings considered workplace practices such as recycling, energy conservation, buying local, supporting bike commuting and public transport as well as setting overarching sustainability policies and goals.

The next day, the Port received a Sustainability Partnership Award from Portland State University in recognition of our 11-year partnership solving waste minimization challenges at Portland International Airport. Students from PSU's Community Environmental Services program serve one- or two-year terms with the Port, gaining real-world experience tackling waste management issues. The students' involvement in the program provides additional capacity for the Port to run one of the most innovative waste minimizations programs at any airport in the nation.

 

Celebrating the environment through art

by Lisa Timmerman 5/21/2014 9:53 AM

April may have been host to Earth Day, but May is a great month to celebrate the environment through arts and culture! The Port of Portland is proud to sponsor this year's edition of Honoring Our Rivers. The anthology of essays, poems, photography and artwork includes submissions from students across the state of Oregon and reflects how they feel connected to local waterways. The publication is an annual project of the Willamette Partnership. You can view the 2014 anthology at local schools and libraries or visit http://bit.ly/1jp9GyI.

A new art installation at Portland International Airport is designed to demonstrate the effects of exposure from the physical environment on natural materials. The temporary installation, created by Seattle artist John Grade, is a piece of a larger sculpture commissioned for the City of Portland through the City’s Percent for Art program for a site at the Columbia Wastewater Treatment Plant. The wood sculpture has been fragmented into 15 pieces which will be temporarily sited for up to three years at multiple locations throughout the city and state, including the one at PDX. Gradually, the fragmented clusters will be returned and re-installed at the original site. The sculpture can be viewed on the lower roadway as motorists depart from the PDX terminal. 

 

Changes in the short-term garage come to light

by Lisa Timmerman 4/16/2014 1:37 PM

Visitors to Portland International Airport are seeing the short-term parking garage in a whole new light. Since the late 1980s, the garage had been illuminated with high pressure sodium light bulbs. These are the same types of bulbs that are widely used for street lamps and emit an orange-colored glow. The Port of Portland just finished replacing over 2,000 bulbs in the garage with primarily high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs.

The fluorescent bulbs proved to be the best fit for most floors of the garage due to the low ceilings and they also now match the lamps installed in the long-term garage in 2010. On the roof of the garage, where low ceilings are not an issue, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs were used.

The new bulbs will save 1,130 megawatt hours of energy per year, enough electricity to power 247 homes. Energy savings, of course, equate to cost savings and the project is estimated to save $90,000 annually in energy costs.

In addition to being lighter on the environment, the new bulbs are easier on the eyes of weary travelers and will help regular users of the garage, such as rental car companies, better serve their customers during dark evening hours.

 

Five years of carbon footprint reporting yields impressive results

by Lisa Timmerman 3/12/2014 4:29 PM

The Port of Portland just marked its fifth year reporting to The Climate Registry. The Port became a founding greenhouse gas emissions reporter of TCR in 2008, primarily in response to an ambitious goal set by the Port’s Commission to reduce the Port’s GHG emissions by 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. 

The Port uses TCR’s robust voluntary GHG reporting program to measure, publicly report and provide third-party verification for the Port’s carbon footprint. TCR is a non-profit organization established to develop a common, accurate and transparent GHG reporting standard in North America. TCR uses internationally recognized GHG measurement standards developed by the World Resources Institute, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the World Business Council on Sustainability.

Based on the initial emissions inventory, the Port adopted a combined approach focusing on energy conservation strategies, replacing and retrofitting older equipment and purchasing renewable power. The Port consistently earns high rankings nationally on the U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partner list. The Port now purchases 100 percent renewable power and is currently ranked 25th among 100 percent renewable purchasers and 9th among local government purchasers, with over 75 million kilowatt hours of renewable power certificates.

The inventory has also served as the foundation for the Port’s carbon footprint reduction and energy management strategy which prioritizes projects to increase energy efficiency. Building awareness around the Port’s carbon footprint has delivered real results. Based on data from the 2012 reporting year, the Port had reduced its GHG emissions by an incredible 60 percent below 1990 levels – four times the original goal!

 

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/

 

Behind the Scenes: PDX Wildlife Team keeps passengers safe

by Lisa Timmerman 1/24/2014 9:28 AM
Nick Atwell and his team are much more than your average birdwatchers. They manage a comprehensive program that keeps passengers at Portland International Airport safe and relies on the best available research, techniques and technology.
PDX has one of the most robust airport wildlife management programs in the nation, and for good reason. PDX is located on the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south migratory path for birds. It is also the largest greenspace in the urban Portland landscape, surrounded by golf courses, the Columbia River and nearby undeveloped Government Island. All in all, it is a pretty attractive place for a bird – except for the 500 or so planes coming and going each day.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires airports to plan for and manage wildlife to ensure flight safety. It’s something that rarely crossed the mind of the average traveler until the Miracle on the Hudson (which incidentally just marked its fifth anniversary). The wildlife management team works seven days per week, from before sunrise to well after sunset while planes are arriving and departing.

 

The program is also committed to using non-lethal methods whenever possible. Working on the airfield, the team has a portfolio of tools to haze birds (or the occasional coyote or deer) away from the airfield. Their vehicles are equipped with horns and sirens. Thermal imaging helps the team spot wildlife in the dark, which is also the best time to use a tool that emits a laser beam to haze birds. Loud noises are the most common method used for hazing. The team uses pyrotechnic devices and radio-controlled sound cannons located throughout the airfield.

 

Long-term management strategies focus on landscape alterations and controlling prey that attract predators. Temporary silt fencing and more permanent vegetated berms prevent flocks of geese from congregating on airport property. Open water features are attractive to water fowl. The program has sought to eliminate open water areas near runways by creating off-site mitigation for wetlands and waterfowl habitat away from the airport. For on-site stormwater detention ponds, Bird Balls and netting successfully deter avian visitors.
PDX Wildlife Team inspects Bird Balls in stormwater detention pond

The presence of some birds actually helps support the program. Six resident red-tailed hawk pairs occupy their own niche on airport property. These raptors keep other species of birds away and many of them are savvy enough to thrive in the busy airport environment. A few hawks have been documented living at the airport for over 14 years. The wildlife management team also traps and relocates hundreds of raptors and performs nest interventions when needed. Since 1999, over 1,200 red-tailed hawks have been relocated to 25 different sites. Captured fledglings are sent to the Audubon Society of Portland’s flight cages on Sauvie Island, where they learn to fly and hunt before they are released back into the wild, away from PDX.

The team conducts research to help manage prey on airport property and determine the best methods for keeping their populations in check. The most prolific sources of food are grasshoppers, grey-tailed voles and earthworms. The team conducts grasshopper surveys and recently began testing a new type of turf grass that requires less frequent mowing. Grasshoppers are often stirred up during mowing, attracting predators and requiring careful coordination with flight activity.  

Though bird strikes do still occur at PDX, the wildlife management team carefully investigates and tracks data to continuously improve the program. For the most challenging investigations, the program relies on the prestigious Smithsonian Institute’s Feather Identification Lab, which offers precise DNA matching.

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