Port of Portland airports help lead the way for carbon accounting in North America

by Lisa Timmerman 3/2/2015 10:50 AM

Portland International Airport, Hillsboro Airport and Troutdale Airport are now certified through the Airports Carbon Accreditation program, making them the fourth, fifth and sixth airports in North America to achieve the status. 

The program was launched by the European region of Airports Council International in 2009. It provides a framework for airports to commit to reducing carbon emissions from their operations with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral. Port of Portland, which owns and operates Portland, Hillsboro and Troutdale airports, signed on as an early adopter in 2014 for the program’s initial expansion to North America. The Port airports now join Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Victoria International Airport, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in obtaining the certification.

The Port brings a wealth of experience in carbon accounting to this new process. As part of its commitment to promoting clean air and reducing impacts to global climate change, the Port signed on as a founding reporter to The Climate Registry in 2008. The Port has reported greenhouse gas emissions organization-wide in each subsequent year. In 2009, the Port committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 – a goal already achieved and surpassed. Through a suite of actions, the Port has reduced greenhouse gas emissions to about 65 percent below 1990 levels.

Substantial reductions have come through the Port’s purchase of renewable energy certificates for 100 percent of its electricity consumption. That covers power use at major facilities such as PDX, which serves nearly 44,000 air travelers on an average day.  

Simultaneously, the Port is systematically investing in energy efficiency and conservation projects. Since 2010, lighting upgrades and retrofits to heating, cooling and ventilation systems at Port facilities resulted in a combined savings of 13,325 metric tons of carbon and 15.7 million kilowatt hours annually. The Port’s fleet of shuttle buses, which deliver passengers and employees between the airport terminal and parking areas around-the-clock, run entirely on cleaner-burning compressed natural gas.

The Airports Carbon Accreditation program is specific to airports and champions the voluntary and collective efforts of airports worldwide to guide and support continual improvement. The program has attracted the support of key institutions in air transportation such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The Port now joins over 100 other leading airports across the world, in the most credible and internationally-recognized framework for active carbon management at airports.

West Coast port labor dispute affecting local environmental industries

by Lisa Timmerman 2/19/2015 4:02 PM

The current West Coast port labor dispute is undoubtedly affecting many small and medium-sized businesses across the state of Oregon, adding costs and delaying shipment of exports. The coastwide conflict has also proved to be problematic for the local recycling industry. Many companies, based in Oregon, facilitate recycling by collecting materials and sending them over to Asia for reprocessing. With backups at ports, many of these businesses are finding themselves with excess volumes of these commodities on hand. 

The problem has grown severe enough that the Association of Oregon Recyclers sent a letter to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to intervene on their behalf. The industry association claims that the much of the backlogged material may end up destined for Oregon's landfills.

In the dark of winter, new trees emerge

by Lisa Timmerman 2/12/2015 5:58 PM

Wintertime is the perfect time to plant trees! Nestled within the industrial core of Northeast Portland is a little known gem of a city park called the Columbia Children's Arboretum. The park was the scene of the third of seven tree plantings the Port of Portland is sponsoring with Friends of Trees during their current planting season. The previous two events included one in Hillsboro near one of the Port's mitigation enhancement projects at Jackson Bottom Wetlands and a large-scale planting at the Sandy River Delta. The remaining plantings will take place in the Argay, Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Russell, Sumner, Wilkes, Concordia, Vernon, Beaumont-Wilshire, Cully, and Roseway neighborhoods. Check out Friends of Trees' latest edition of Treemail to learn more about the Columbia Children's Arborteum.

       

This winter also marked the final phase in the PDX Tree Obstruction Removal project. Removing the trees and stumps which were beginning to interfere with federally-regulated airspace around Portland International Airport, cleared the way for replanting this February. Workers planted more than 23,000 native shrub and small tree species such as vine maple, Oregon grape, red-flowering currant and native roses and willow amongst other lower-growing vegetation that was allowed to remain on-site. 

      

Port receives ISO 14001 certification

by Lisa Timmerman 1/8/2015 9:26 AM

After 14 years with an Environmental Management System in place, the Port of Portland sought certification to the international standard, ISO 14001, at the end of 2014. An EMS is a framework that organizations around the globe use to proactively identify and manage impacts on the environment and it is centered on the principle of continuous improvement.

 

The Port has long operated its EMS in conformance with ISO 14001, but 2014 marked the first year that the Port sought certification through third-party accreditation agency. Experienced auditors performed an intensive audit and on-site inspections of the Port’s operations and EMS.

 

The EMS uses annual goal setting and performance reporting to guide and evaluate environmental performance. The Port’s goals focus on five key programmatic areas including air quality, energy management, water resources, natural resources and waste minimization.

 

The Port received the certification from Bureau Veritas, earning exceptionally high marks from the audit team. The Port is one of the first and one of the few consolidated ports to receive the certification for all its operating areas. Many organizations certify a portion of their operation, but the Port sought certification across all its diverse operations including marine, industrial development, aviation, and corporate. The certification marks a significant achievement, but due to the nature of the EMS, it also demonstrates a significant commitment to continue to assess the Port’s performance and seek ways to improve its environmental programs and practices on an ongoing basis.

Updated bike and pedestrian plan takes off at PDX

by Lisa Timmerman 12/18/2014 3:37 PM

The Port of Portland recently completed an update to its PDX Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan. Planning for pedal and foot-powered transportation might initially seem like an odd fit for a facility that is primarily focused on flying travelers to far flung destinations. In a community that boasts about its bike lanes and neighborhood walk scores, it is all about providing good customer service and reflecting the needs of the large workforce that keeps PDX running on a daily basis.

The PDX Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan is not a regulatory requirement. Providing alternative transportation options to and from PDX helps the Port meet its sustainability and employee wellness goals in addition to meeting the needs of travelers and airport employees. The Port began planning to accomodate cyclists and pedestrians in the 1990s. By 2003, the Port became the first commercial airport in the nation to develop a comprehensive bike and pedestrian master plan.

In the last decade, implementation of that plan led to constructing a multi-use path directly to the PDX terminal building - another first for a commercial airport - and secure bike parking for airport employees and public bike parking for travelers and visitors. Beyond the terminal, an at-grade bike and pedestrian crossing of Airport Way at its intersection with NE 82nd Avenue, which is considered one of the most complex intersections in the state, provides a connection to the multi-use path from points south. It also allows pedestrians to access businesses on Frontage Road after taking TriMet MAX light rail to stops in nearby Cascade Station.  Cyclists originating from points north along the Marine Drive Bike Path or crossing the Glenn Jackson Bridge benefit from a quicker option for accessing PDX by using a designated crossing constructed by the Port that connects directly to the multi-use path. 

Multi-use to PDX terminal building

 

 Crossing of Marine Drive to connect Marine Drive bike path to PDX

With many of the goals from the 2003 Master Plan achieved, the Port began updating the plan last year. After a thorough analysis and outreach to bike and pedestrian facility users and experts, the new plan includes recommendations to support and improve the airport’s cycling and walking populations as well as identifying challenging connections between PDX’s bike network and bike networks to the south.  One of those challenging connections, the intersection of Columbia Boulevard and NE Alderwood Road, will soon be converted to a signalized crossing, improving safety for cyclists. The Port will contribute to funding a portion of the improvement thanks to a recent State Transportation Improvement Program award.

Currently, many of the public bike parking areas at PDX are frequently near or at capacity, even during cold and rainy winter months. The Port plans to replace the existing serpentine racks with staple racks to add parking capacity within the next year. The Port will explore additional signage and work to incorporate helpful information for pedestrians and cyclists as broader wayfinding technology advances at PDX. In the longer-term, the Port will seek to develop an outbound multi-use path in conjunction with future improvements to the PDX terminal and terminal exit roadway.  

Bike parking near the TriMet MAX station at PDX

The updated Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan can be found on the Port’s public website and cyclists can find information on accessing PDX by bike there as well.

Related Links

 Does your airport have a 50-page bike plan? Bikeportland.org

Airport plots better ways to get to PDX - by bike Portland Tribune

Driving home big water savings at PDX

by Lisa Timmerman 11/17/2014 2:09 PM

Ever wonder what happens after you drop off your rental car? If the vehicle was returned to Portland International Airport, there’s a good chance that it involved a visit to the Quick Turnaround Facility, also known as the QTA. Over the last two years, this behind-the-scenes facility has been undergoing some significant changes to reduce its environmental footprint.

 

After you part ways with your rental car, it gets whisked off to the QTA to get cleaned up for the next customer. Any garbage or recycling is removed, the interior is vacuumed and the car gets run through a car wash.

 

During the busy season, thousands of rental cars could go through the car wash each day, so it’s not surprising that Port of Portland staff identified the QTA as the largest consumer of water at PDX. In one year alone, the QTA could use as much as 16.2 million gallons of water. Over the last two years, the Port and on-airport rental car companies at PDX have been working together to make modifications to the QTA to improve water conservation.

 

In its first phase, the Port worked with the rental car agencies to complete facility performance and maintenance improvements, saving nearly 5.6 million gallons of water per year. The success of the first phase sparked interest in exploring the feasibility of water reuse.

 

“In the spring of 2013 we installed a water reclaim unit at our Alamo location and saw immediate water use reduction of 50 – 70 percent,” explains Ava Joubert, Group Operations Manager for EAN Holdings LLC, which operates the Enterprise, Alamo and National Brands at PDX. “We knew that if all five car rental companies doing business on-site at PDX installed individual water reclaim units on their bays the water and cost savings could be really impactful.”

 

In a recently completed second phase, all the rental car agencies installed water reclamation units that reuse rinse water in the wash cycle, cutting water use in half. The potential water savings each year will be around another 5 million gallons, equal to about 7.5 Olympic-size swimming pools!

 

In addition to the obvious environmental benefits of conserving water, the changes also pencil out for the rental car agencies. Using less water means lower water and sewer fees, cutting operating costs in a highly competitive industry. It also helps bring new possibilities to light. “We've learned about rebate programs with the Energy Trust of Oregon and the Portland Water Bureau for efficiency projects. We have made great strides, but there is still a lot to learn. The opportunities for more water and energy savings are infinite, which is really exciting!” says Joubert.

PDX helps bring Airport Carbon Accreditation to North America

by Lisa Timmerman 9/16/2014 3:38 PM

Big news out of Atlanta last week! Portland International Airport joined four other airport authorities to bring an internationally recognized carbon accreditation system for the aviation industry to North America.

The system is endorsed by Airports Council International and officially launched in Europe in 2009 where it has been widely in use since. It provides a common standard for airports across the globe to measure carbon emissions and commit to reduction actions. With the system now expanding to regions across the globe, PDX committed to be an early adopter of the system along with Aéroports de Montréal, Denver International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Sea-Tac International Airport.

The Port of Portland already brings a wealth of experience in carbon accounting to this new process. As part of its commitment to promote clean air and reduce impacts to global climate change, the Port signed on as a founding reporter of The Climate Registry in 2008. The Port has reported greenhouse gas emissions organization-wide in each subsequent year. A commitment by the Port's Commission in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent below 1990 levels has already been far surpassed. Through a number of actions the Port has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions to about 65 percent below 1990 levels.

Representatives from PDX participated in a signing ceremony at ACI-North America’s annual conference in Atlanta last week. In the coming months, PDX will work towards achieving certification under the Airport Carbon Accreditation program, joining 108 airports on five continents.

Representatives from Aéroports de Montréal, Denver International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Portland International Airport and Sea-Tac International Airport pose after signing on as early adopters to the Airport Carbon Accreditation in North America.

Environmental efforts earn accolades

by Lisa Timmerman 9/10/2014 11:17 AM

 

A few months ago, this blog featured two research papers describing the latest and greatest in environmental achievements at airports and seaports. One of those documents, Environmental Initiatives at Seaports Worldwide: A Snapshot of Best Practices, just earned an Environmental Improvement Award from the American Association of Port Authorities.

AAPA issued the award in the Stakeholder Awareness, Education and Involvement category. The Port of Portland worked with the International Institute for Sustainable Seaports to develop, and later update, a white paper that highlights major environmental initiatives at seaports across the globe. Though the paper was originally conceived to gather information to support decisions about future marine terminal development in Portland, the paper was designed so that the information could also assist other ports around the globe as they reached the same critical decision points. The Port will receive the award in November at AAPA's annual conference.

The Port also recently earned a Special Recognition from the Oregon Association of Clean Water Agencies for serving as a role model in using alternative stormwater management techniques. In 2006, the Port installed over 35 acres of porous pavement at Terminal 6. The success of that installation set the stage for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company to install nine acres of porous pavement on a parcel it recently purchased from the Port. The site is the first facility where BNSF has installed pervious pavement. The installation provides water quality benefits and eliminates the need for detention ponds, allowing BNSF to make the best use of its available space.

Port explores propane export facility

by Lisa Timmerman 9/2/2014 8:50 AM

The Port of Portland announced today that Pembina Pipeline Corporation has entered into an agreement to develop a rail-served propane export facility that could be up and running by early 2018. Pembina is planning to construct and operate the facility on land adjacent to the east end of the Port’s marine Terminal 6 in Rivergate Industrial District.

Based in Calgary, Alberta, Pembina is one of Canada’s leading providers of transportation and logistics for the North American energy sector. Pembina is a time-tested operator with extensive experience in building propane facilities and safely transporting and storing propane in Canada and the U.S. The Portland facility would utilize state-of-the-art storage and safety measures.

The Pacific Northwest has been a highly sought after hub for the transport of fossil fuels due to the rapid increase in domestic production of fuels. The Port has previously considered the suitability of its facilities for coal and crude oil.   

“This is great news,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “We welcome this investment and these jobs in Portland. The city is committed to growing our economy on the land we already have, and holding industry to very high environmental and public safety standards. This proposal meets these goals.”

Upon completion, the propane export facility would receive approximately 37,000 barrels of propane per day. It is anticipated that most of the propane would be exported to Asian markets, where the cleaner burning propane will be utilized for various residential and industrial purposes.

“We have been extremely discerning when considering recent energy sector cargo opportunities, and after saying ‘no’ to coal and ‘not now’ to crude by rail, we are confident that we are saying ‘yes’ to the right partner at the right time,” said Bill Wyatt, executive director for the Port of Portland. “Propane has an excellent track record as a clean and safe alternative fuel, and I am impressed by the level of experience, expertise and commitment to safety that Pembina brings to the table.”

It is estimated that the project will generate between 600-800 temporary construction jobs and approximately 35 to 40 new, permanent positions to operate the terminal. This employment is valued at approximately $7.2 million in wages and benefits annually. Additionally, an estimated $3.3 million in annual tax revenues would go to the City of Portland, as well as $2.4 million to Multnomah County and $3.1 million to Portland Public Schools annually.

Stump removal begins in economy parking lot

by Lisa Timmerman 8/26/2014 7:41 AM

Today, the Port of Portland moves forward with the second phase of work on the PDX Tree Obstruction Removal Project in the economy parking lot at Portland International Airport. The project began last fall with the removal of approximately 400 cottonwood trees that were beginning to encroach on federally-regulated airspace surrounding PDX's north runway.

The site will ultimately be replanted with lower-growing native trees and shrubs. The project is being executed in several phases to minimize site disturbance during wet weather months and to maximize the survivability of the new plants. The second phase, starting this week, will consist of removing stumps that were left on-site following the tree removal activity last September. Travelers and motorists should expect to see equipment removing the stumps for up to a month. 

Many of the stumps will be recovered and repurposed for habitat restoration projects. Some stumps are being given to the City of Portland and the Fairview Lake Property Owners Association. Others will be used by the Port on its own mitigation sites including projects at Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park and Buffalo Slough. The stumps are used to create habitat enhancements such as basking areas for turtle species and to simulate naturally-occurring large, woody debris features in waterways.

When the site is replanted next fall, the trees will be replaced with more than 23,000 native shrub and small tree species such as vine maple, Oregon grape, red-flowering currant and native roses and willow. They will be planted around existing, lower-growing species of trees and shrubs that were left untouched. The images below show an artist's rendering of what the site will likely look like once the replanting has occurred.