Portland Green Real Estate
Portland Oregon–Sustainable City USA
Are you thinking about buying a “green” Portland home? Or perhaps considering moving to Portland where the way of life may be more green and sustainably friendly than where you currently live? Portland real estate agent Sharon Francis is qualified to assist you in either case–she has been trained at the national headquarters of Earth Advantage,in Portland, Or, and Sharon is a certified S.T.A.R & Earth Advantage “green” real estate agent in Portland metro including Lake Oswego, Beaverton, Hillsboro and Tigard
When you fly to Portland, Oregon, one of the first things you’ll notice is the very green landscape in any season–Oregon is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S. No brown or gold hills here in the Portland area of Northwestern Oregon. Our evergreen rain forests with beds of moss and ferns create a lush environment year round, and our mostly mild Pacific Northwest climate creates a changing scene in our gardens all year.
Portland has always been on the cutting edge of “green” living practices as well. And now the whole country is embracing green practices to one degree or another. Even NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman sees the green movement as an important political strategy to restore the U.S. at home and abroad.
Beginning with Oregon’s Bottle Bill in 1971–the first such bill in the U.S. designed to discourage litter and landfill, and instead to encourage recycling, Oregon citizens have adopted a variety of mechanisms to protect and enhance life in our state. Portland in particular has often been the leader, and often through Metro, the tri-county agency that governs the three counties making up the Portland area,, name Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties. In 2008, Popular Science Magazine named Portland as the greenest city in the U.S.A.
Portland is usually #1 on any list of the most green US cities, and sometimes on international green lists as well. In 2010, it was rated #1 on a Green City Index. Annually since 2006 through 2008, Portland has been chosen as the most sustainable city in the U.S. by Sustainability Lane. In April 2007, the president of the U.S. Green Building Council visited Portland to bestow an award on Portland developer Gerding Edlin, a local Portland company which may have participated in more green projects than any other at this point.
When considering what makes Portland “green”, it is clear that Portland’s approach to several issues has created the city we love today. In April 2007, The Oregonian reported that Portlanders’ use of energy, water, and miles driven have all decreased over the last ten years, but we still have a long way to go. Portland’s Office of Sustainability offers tools for individuals and businesses for energy conservation and sustainable practices.
Portland Metro First US Multiple Listing Service Offering searches for
Green Portland Homes for Sale
Beginning in February 2007, Portland Regional Multiple Listing Service was the first MLS in the U.S. to offer searches for green real estate. Oregon real estate agents have several levels of green and energy efficient options to use in the searches. You can search for green Portland homes on our ultimate Portland real estate search engine.
The Portland MLS search for green homes offers many categories including certification by Energy Star, Earth Advantage, a combination of those two, and Leeds certified homes of various levels. When using our Portland green homes search engine, you’ll be able to see on each listing that comes up which category was used for certifying the home “green”. The certification process for green homes has expanded this year with the National Home Builders Association coming up with their own independently verified process, but some say their standard is lower than the LEEDS standards.
From the Oregon Bottle Bill of the 1970′s, Portlanders went forward to embrace recycling of other waste, such as glass, tin, cardboard, papers–all in containers provided by Metro for weekly pickup. By 2001, Portlanders recycled 54% of our waste in containers provided by our sanitary service providers, but in the past ten years the total amount of waste has increased dramatically. New recycling standards and regulations have been adopted by the City of Portland adding recycling requirements for businesses, multi-family, and construction, and Metro offers a comprehensive resource for any recycling questions. In 2010, Portland was designated the fourth least wasteful U.S. city in a privately funded study.
While Oregon was an innovator with the first bottle bill in the U.S., it fell behind in recent years. Only in January 2009 were plastic water bottles included, and other expansions of the Oregon Bottle Bill were passed by the 201 1 Oregon Legislature.
Oregonians in the metro Portland area continue to struggle with certain green issues. To bag or not to bag–plastic or paper–is a continuing issue here. In May 2007, the Oregonian analyzed the costs, and concluded that energy used to get to the store was the bigger issue. With the subsequent downturn in the economy, this issue seems to have been put on hold. However, the discussion in Portland certainly raised the issue in many peoples’ minds, and today you’ll find lots of Portlanders bringing their own reusable bags to the grocery store. As of July 2011, the City of Portland is passing a ban on plastic bags. For your own “green” shopping bag, contact real estate agent Sharon Francis who will send you one by mail!
Another recycling issue not totally resolved is how to dispose of the new energy efficient light bulbs. Because the energy efficient bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, careful disposal is important but there are several Portland Locations for disposal of compact fluorescent bulbs such as Home Deport Stores.
As an example of Portlanders’ dedication to keeping the city green, the use of Zip Car (originally Flex Car) which was started in Seattle, spread to Portland like wildfire, and there are now many pick-up and drop-off locations throughout the Portland metro area. Members can reserve for as little as an hour or two, knowing that the car is already insured. A 2007 study showed that Portlander’s average commuting time
Portland is a cyclist’s city, where biking is a form of transportation–not just recreation. From our miles of biking trails, clearly designated biking lanes, and even rentable lockers for cyclists, it is no wonder that more Portland residents bike to work than in other U.S. cities. The most popular bridge for cyclists traveling from Portland’s east side to downtown Portland is the Hawthorne bridge, which has 7,200 bikers a day crossing it–amounting to 20% of the total traffic on the bridge. Check out a cool video of the Hawthorne Bridge.
The New York Times in 2010 produced an informative video about the bike industry of Portland.
The City of Portland’s Department of Transportation has a several web pages devoted to biking in Portland, including numerous bike maps of the Portland metro area, and links to Portland’s many biking organizations. With more than 220 miles of bike lanes, biking to work is a real option in Portland. Portland has an aggressive long term plan to raise the percentage of commuters by bike to 20%. Part of that plan is a series of Neighborhood Greenways, a project that enhances more quiet neighborhood streets for bikes and other non automobile traffic. Here’s an unusual sign for cyclists in Portland’s Pearl District, warning cyclists of the hazards of crossing the Portland streetcar tracks.
For those who commute to work in Portland by car, a 2007 article in The Oregonian reported that the Portland average commute of 23 minutes was 14% less than the national average, and that our commute by miles was considerably less, possibly shortened by our land use laws that have discouraged urban sprawl. For two years in a row, Portland has been #1 and then #2 for the most polite drivers in the USA according to a national survey by AutoVantage.
Portland’s public transportation options are many:
- Portland’s streetcar system is the only modern streetcar system in the U.S. It runs more than 6 miles from Portland’s Nob Hill area on NW 23rd Avenue, through the Pearl District and downtown, to Riverplace along the Willamette River, and south through the South Waterfront neighborhood turning at Bancroft St. In the core downtown Portland area, the streetcar is free.There are plans to expand the streetcar to Portland’s eastside, and possibly along existing tracks to Lake Oswego.
- Portland has an extensive bus system operating to far-reaching suburbs and to Vancouver, Wa. Like all Portland public transportation, it is operated by Tri-Met, whose website offers trip planning features. In addition to its regular bus schedules, Tri-Met offers special shuttles, such as the summer shuttle to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and the shuttle through Portland’s 400 acre Washington Park, the site of several attractions including the Zoo, Portland Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Children’s Museum, and the World Forestry Center.
- Award-winning light rail in Portland goes by the name “MAX”, and with lines as far west as Hillsboro, North to Jantzen Beach, and east to Gresham. Portland was the first West Coast city with light rail service from the airport to city center. Operated by Tri-Met, the light rail stations offer seamless service with transfers to the bus lines. Along the routes, new neighborhoods have sprung up that are centered on the various light rail stations. In Hillsboro, for example, a whole community with a mix of retail and a variety of housing options from single family to condo’s can be found at Orenco Station, giving residents the option to walk to the station for their commute to downtown Portland or all the way to the airport. Portlanders can bring their bikes on “Max” extending their range of travel.
- In February 2009, the first U.S. commuter train to connect suburbs began service for the 14 miles between Beaverton and Wilsonville, with stops in Washington Square, Tigard, and Tualatin. Utilizing existing train tracks, these modern diesel powered engines are similar to those used in Europe. Known as WES, the Tri-Met operated train terminates at the Beaverton light rail station, where a passenger can transfer to light rail.
Renewable Energy in Portland, Oregon
Metro Portlanders have a variety of options when subscribing to electrical service, including choosing renewable sources for their electicity. Those who are served by Pacific Power can choose from various options in the “Blue Sky” package, by paying a bit more each month, from $1.85 to $8 more for the average size home. This allows Pacific Power to utilize energy sources from wind, solar, and bio-mass. By utilizing the “Blue Sky” package, the average household could “prevent almost 24,000 pounds of CO2 emissions annually–as much as…a car makes when driven about 25,000 miles.”
Portland General Electric customers can choose from the “Green Source” program, which is provided to PGE by the Green Mountain Energy Company. The “Green Source” program utilizes wind, geo-thermal, and low-impact hydroelectric sources of energy. PGE has also initiated an experimental bio-gas program with Cal-gon, a dairy farm in the Salem, Oregon area, to turn manure into energy. Not only does this benefit renewable energy, but it also benefits dairy farms in that it may allow them to expand their herds.
Wind power is a significant part of Oregon’s energy resource, and in 2010, Oregon produced 2104 MW from the wind.
Oregon is also looking to the ocean for power from the waves. Oregon State University Wave Institute, partnering with the U.S. Navy and Columbia Power Technologies concluded a series of tests and experiments about the energy generated from waves in 2008, and is proceeding to explore commercial development of wave power for Oregon.
Green Building in Greater Portland & Lake Oswego
Not everyone knows that the operation of large buildings contributes more pollution to the atmosphere that automobiles. The greater Portland area has taken many steps to counter that pollution generating a mind-set here that has resulted in more LEEDS certified buildings than other U.S. cities. LEEDS stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To obtain that designation, buildings must adhere to stringent building standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Among Portland’s better known green buildings are the Jean Vollum Eco Trust Building (the first historic building to receive the designation), the OHSU Wellness Center, The Meriwether Condominiums on the South Waterfront, the Portland Convention Center’s Rain Garden, which collects and recycles rainwater.
The same mind-set to save energy and curb pollution led the City of Portland to create a Grey to Green program, part of which is aimed at creating 43 acres of eco-roofs in the next 4 years. As of 2009, there are already 9 acres of eco-roofs over 90 buildings in the Portland area. Multnomah County is committed to green building practices for any new construction or remodeling projects of its buildings.