Sustainability Office

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.

The office supports the Sustainability and Transportation Committee of the Portland City Council.
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We're pleased to announce a major improvement to our recycling program!  The new carts keep recyclables covered which will greatly reduce the amount of litter in the streets.  They hold about 4 times more material than a blue bin so you can recycle more.  Learn more at the Recycling page:

Current Initiatives:

Resiliency Planning

The Sustainability and Transportation Committee received the final report from the Bayside Adapts neighborhood resiliency study during their meeting on October 18, 2017.  The report includes important information that the City will need to prepare for rising seas attributable to global climate change.  This includes: updated sea level rise projections synchronized to the City's mapping datum (NGVD 29), an analysis of existing stormwater infrastructure, and guiding principles for future planning work developed by community stakeholders.

Solar Power

Our climate action plan calls for the City to explore opportunities to produce renewable energy. As part of that commitment the City Council has authorized the construction of  a 660 kW solar array on the closed landfill behind the Ocean Avenue Dog Park.  The Sustainability Office will be working with Revision Energy to build the project. It will be fully constructed and producing electricity before the end of 2017.

Reducing the Use of Pesticides

The Sustainability Office has been working closely with staff from the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Facilities to develop policies and practices that minimize the use of chemical treatments of public property.

The office also provides staff support for the Pesticide and Fertilizer Task Force, which is currently working on recommendations for the City Council regarding the use of pesticides throughout the city.

Energy Benchmarking

We can't track we we don't measure - so we are working to create energy performance benchmarks for all City of Portland buildings. As part of this effort we are working with the utilities and a Portland based sustainability consultant to streamline the reporting of data from the utilities to customers. The consultant will use the data to create dashboards that will allow us to see the energy performance of each of our facilities on a monthly basis.

In November, 2016 the City Council enacted an ordinance that will require the owners of commercial properties larger than 20,000 square feet and residential properties with more than 50 units benchmark their energy performance and report it to the City. This ordinance will not take effect for private property until at least June 1, 2019. In the interim, this office will continue to work with the utilities to streamline data reporting and develop training opportunities for affected property owners to learn about energy benchmarking and how to report the data.

LED Streetlight Conversion

The City has approximately 6,800 streetlights that help people move about the community safely. These are primarily use high pressure sodium and metal halide lamps, which use a great deal of energy. We recently selected TEN Connected Solutions to help us purchase the existing streetlights from Central Maine Power and to replace them with City owned LED fixtures.  This project will improve the lighting throughout the city, reduce energy consumption, and save a substantial amount of money.

Waste Reduction and Recycling

The City has had great success reducing waste and increasing recycling. In 1998, crews delivered 23,000 tons of waste to ecomaine (then RWS) but less than 1,000 tons of recyclables. Now, we deliver only 9,5000 tons of trash to the facility and about 5,500 tons of recyclables. Our curbside recycling rate stands at 37%. Staff is looking for opportunities to increase recycling performance and to reduce litter by replacing the blue recycling bins with larger carts with lids. We are also looking at other opportunities to increase program performance. More information about these efforts will be available in early 2017.

In 2014 the City of Portland adopted its Green Packaging Ordinances, banning the use of polystyrene packaging and placing a $0.05 fee on disposable shopping bags. (Portland became the first municipality in Maine to adopt a bag fee.) These ordinances have led to more sustainable packaging for take out meals and beverages and have inspired shoppers to bring their own bags when shopping. Staff continue to provide information about these ordinances to communities in Maine and across the country.