What We Do
The Sustainability Office undertakes initiatives designed to make Portland a vibrant, environmentally friendly community now and into the future. We collaborate with all departments to increase the efficiency of City operations and seek innovative approaches to improve municipal services. We partner with community organizations, citizens, and businesses working to conserve energy, reduce waste, and preserve our natural resources. We promote actions that will make Portland resilient in the face of a changing climate.
On Friday, September 10 we issued an RFP for solar installers and other energy service providers to help us implement Electrify Everything! -- a broad initiative to help resident and businesses decarbonize their homes. The program aims to use group buying power to reduce costs to residents to purchase and air source heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, solar panels, and community solar subscriptions. We will create a resource to organize information about all available rebates, tax credits, and other financial assistance available to further reduce installation costs. This includes helping people identify affordable financing, if required. Learn more about the program by viewing our FAQ.
New Energy Code Effective July 1, 2021
The 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) went into effect in Portland on July 1, 2021. This affects new residential and commercial construction, as well as many expansions and renovations of existing structures. Portland is the first municipality in Maine and amongst the first in the nation to adopt this code which will dramatically increase the energy efficiency of new construction and significant renovations. Implementing this code is a significant step to reach the City's goal that all new construction be net zero by 2030. Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships has created a number of helpful resources about the new code that is available on their website: NEEP. Learn more about the City's climate action goals at One Climate Future.
We're pleased to kick of our food waste drop off program that will help Portland residents reduce waste by composting food scraps. Visit the location near you: North Street Community Garden, Boyd Street Community Garden, Clark Street Community Garden, Libbytown Community Garden, and Riverside Recycling. Learn more at our Compost Page.
The owners of buildings with 20,000 square feet that are occupied at least 90% by a single occupant were required to report their energy and water consumption by May 1. If you are subject to the ordinance and have not yet reported please visit our Energy Benchmarking page for information about how to comply.
As of January 1, 2021 food and beverage retailers are prohibited from distributing plastic straws. Straws made of materials other than plastic may be distributed upon customer request only.
We're pleased to announce the release of One Climate Future! Thank you to everyone who has offered comments, taken part in discussions, taken surveys, or participated in the process in any way. We are excited to hear your comment on the draft. You can find it at the One Climate Future website. While you are there, sign up for our biweekly newsletter and learn about upcoming events.
Heritage Tree Ordinance: On Monday, August 3 the Portland City Council adopted an ordinance to protect large trees located in designated historic districts. These include native trees such as oaks, red maples, elms, birches, and chestnuts with a diameter of 24" or more. It also include decorative trees such as dogwoods, dawn redwoods, and apple with a diameter of 12" or more. Anyone who wishes to cut down one of these trees must receive a permit from the City Arborist and, if granted, must replace the trees on their property or contribute to a fund dedicated to planting trees in areas that lack an adequate tree canopy.
The purpose of the ordinance is to preserve vital ecological services provided by large trees. This includes carbon sequestration, cooling, and storm water management. See the documents section below to download a copy of the ordinance.
Maine State Plastic Bag Ban: Enforcement of Maine’s statewide ban on plastic bags will begin on July 1, 2021. The DEP has prepared a fact sheet with important information about the law. Click to learn more. The State law pre-empts Portland's bag fee ordinance.
Current key Initiatives
The City of Portland has committed to reducing community wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 and transitioning to 100% clean energy for municipal operations by 2040. Learn more about the many projects completed and underway to achieve these goals. Climate Action Initiative.
Smart City Initiatives
Smart city technologies enhance services for city residents and visitors, and lead to a more sustainable city. Projects include intelligent traffic signals in select locations, EV charging stations, and environmental sensors that can provide information about noise levels and air quality. Learn more.
Pesticide Use Ordinance
The City Council passed a pesticide ordinance designed to protect public health and the environment by reducing chemical inputs used for maintaining landscapes. Get more information on the new pesticide use guidelines.
Small changes can make a big impact.
5 Things You Can Do
- Reduce waste and recycle. Check out the EcoMaine Recyclopedia App.
- Weatherize your home. Learn more from Efficiency Maine.
- Walk, ride your bike, or take the bus to your destination. Learn more from Metro.
- Maintain a Bay Friendly yard. Learn more from Friends of Casco Bay.
- Support local businesses. Learn more from Portland Buy Local.