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.



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.

Learn More

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 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!

PDX Tree Obstruction Removal Project begins

by Lisa Timmerman 9/26/2013 9:50 AM

This week, the Port began work on the first phase of a project to remove cottonwood trees growing beneath federally-regulated airspace at Portland International Airport. The site will ultimately be replanted with lower-growing, native plants. Although this first phase of tree removal took only a few days, the project is the culmination of years of planning.

Portland has a well-deserved reputation as a tree-loving city, from the iconic Forest Park to the steadfast efforts of local nonprofit, Friends of Trees. Cutting down trees is not something we take lightly. The Port was faced with a decision that was absolutely necessary to keep PDX operational well into the future.

The stand of cottonwood trees in question is located in a vegetated area within the economy parking lots. The trees lie below the regulated airspace for approaches and departures from PDX’s north runway. The trees were not yet to the point where they posed a flight safety risk, but they were beginning to penetrate other types of Federal Aviation Administration regulated airspace surrounding the flight paths. These areas are protected to prevent interference with instruments that guide approaching planes and to provide safe paths for planes should they experience mechanical difficulties.

The issue of trees encroaching on the airspace near the north runway has long been identified as a conflict that would eventually need to be addressed. In 2000, the trees were topped, providing an estimated 10-year window of protection for the airspace. Unfortunately, this was not a long-term solution. Topping trees compromises their health, making them hazardous to work around. Therefore, additional topping was not a viable option.

When master planning for PDX began through the Airport Futures process in 2007, removing the cottonwood trees in the economy lot was identified as an essential project to keep the airport operational well into the future. The Airport Futures process allowed the Port to work with the City of Portland and other stakeholders to develop a replanting plan that reflects the site’s status as an environmental zone and provides a sustainable, long-term solution that protects flight safety at PDX. 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.

While the loss of these trees is unfortunate, we have been able to complete the project in a way that was both as minimally invasive as possible and allows reuse of some of the logs and stumps for mitigation projects. The logging contractor hired by the Port used state-of-the-art equipment and technology to remove the trees, reducing the impact on the site and the amount of time during which the logging activity took place. Some of the logs cut for the project are being reserved to create turtle basking features at Port mitigation sites and some stumps will serve as large woody debris to create nearshore habitat.

The project is planned in phases to minimize site disturbance during wet weather months and to maximize the survivability of the new plants. It will take a little over a year for the site to be replanted and longer for it to become well-established. We will keep you posted on the site’s progress over time. 

 Artist's renderings of the site replanted with low-growing, native vegetation.



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:
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.