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.

       

 

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. 

 

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!

 

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 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!

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!

 

Supreme Committee visits Port HQ

by Lisa Timmerman 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 carbon and energy accounting featured at annual GoGreen conference

by Lisa Timmerman 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. 

 

SOLVE Beach and Riverside Cleanup at West Hayden Island

by Lisa Timmerman 10/4/2012 11:29 AM

Last Saturday, Port employees were joined by Starbucks employees, University of Portland students, the Portland AmeriCorps Alums group and few local residents for a SOLVE Beach and Riverside Cleanup event at West Hayden Island. The cleanup is one of over 100 similar events that occurred in Oregon in September. 

The island provides public access on the beach up to the ordinary high water mark and plenty of litter and debris had accumulated  since the last time we held a cleanup event in 2011. The group of 128 volunteers removed 2,800 pounds of litter and debris. We would like to deliver a big thank you to all who participated in the cleanup. Please visit our Facebook page for a few photos from the event.  

If you saw clean air, would you know it?

by Lisa Timmerman 9/21/2012 2:34 PM

The air we breathe is important to all of us. Some things that affect air quality are easy to see. Take for example, wildfires currently burning in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. These events create smoke plumes that are visible to the naked eye and on a larger scale in satellite imagery. But there are other things that can affect air quality that might not be as apparent in the course of our day-to-day lives. At the Port, making air quality improvements is important to us, which is why we were pleased to see a significant change to global marine fuel standards implemented on August 1. The new standard will result in improved air quality along our nation’s coasts and inland areas.

Marine passenger and cargo vessels are now required to burn fuel containing no more than one percent sulfur once they pass within 200 nautical miles of U.S. coastline.  Currently, bunker fuel is commonly used and contains about three percent sulfur which, upon combustion, emits fine particulate pollution.  The regulatory change is the result of an amendment to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, governed by the International Maritime Organization and enforced here in the U.S. by the Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The measure designates an Emissions Control Area (ECA) along the North American coastlines and inland waterways of Canada and the U.S.

The more stringent regulations are certainly a step in the right direction toward improving air quality and decreasing the risk of health conditions like asthma. However, any fuel transition in the marine transport industry does not come easily. Ocean-going vessels are now required to burn a compliant low-sulfur fuel once they enter the ECA. Premiums for compliant fuel run at about 20 percent above current fuel costs. However, failure to comply could also cost as much as $25,000 per day in fines for ships in violation. Some ships have already changed their routes to traverse directly across the ECA and minimize the amount of expensive compliant fuel they must burn.

The new standards have also resulted in disproportionate impacts. For inland ports, like the Port of Portland, ship operators will bear added fuel costs not only within the ocean portion of the ECA, but also for the 100 mile journey upriver to reach their port of call. Many vessels that call on Alaska will travel entirely within an ECA during their voyage. Like any industry, change can often lead to innovation. TOTE, a company whose vessels sail exclusively inside the ECA between Washington and Alaska found another solution. They will switch some ships to run exclusively on liquid natural gas. LNG generates no particulate pollution because it does not contain sulfur. It also generates far less carbon dioxide.  Even better, its biggest advantage is that it is far less expensive than the high sulfur bunker fuel it replaces.         

The sulfur standard that went in to effect in August can be achieved through blending bunker fuels and lighter low sulfur fuels. However, an even more stringent standard will go in to effect in the North American ECA in 2015, when fuel must contain 0.1 percent sulfur or less. To achieve that milestone, the industry will likely need a new oil-based fuel formula that does not yet exist—or it will need to convert ships to burn LNG.

 

Related Links 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regulatory Announcement Fact Sheet

International Maritime Organization

TOTE receives ECA waiver for LNG conversion

Seaport Celebration: a Zero Waste event

by Lisa Timmerman 8/24/2012 2:22 PM

Last weekend, Terminal 4 was host to another successful Seaport Celebration. The annual event is a festive day of family-oriented activities put on by the Port of Portland and many of our community partners and terminal operators. Though the weather was unseasonably mild, people of all ages turned out to enjoy interactive displays, games, jet boat tours and a cruise on the Portland Spirit. This year’s event was a first-rate success in another regard.

We have been steadily improving upon waste minimization efforts at our headquarters building, with a goal of achieving Zero Waste status. This is no small feat when you consider that our main office is home to about 450 employees on any given work day. We also strive to minimize waste whenever possible at Port-sponsored events and this year we are proud to report that Seaport Celebration was a Zero Waste event.

After tallying the numbers, the event achieved an impressive 97 percent waste diversion rate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency threshold for Zero Waste status is a 90 percent or greater diversion rate. Much of this success is due to dedicated Port staff and the efforts of the Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project. PTAP staff is part of Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services program and work in partnership with Port staff to reduce landfill-bound waste by implementing recycling, composting and other waste prevention programs.

Related Links

Zero Waste Alliance

PSU - Community Environmental Services - Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project