1992 HERE Today House
Image: Greg Acker

1992

The Sustainable Building Collaborative builds the HERE Today House (interior pictured), Portland’s first green demonstration home. The New York Times asks: “Is it the house of the future?”


1992

Metro adopts a Metropolitan Greenspaces Master Plan to protect natural areas; preserve plant and animal life; establish an interconnected system of trails, greenways, and wildlife corridors; and restore open greenspaces to neighborhoods.


1993

Portland becomes the first local government in the United States to adopt the Kyoto Protocol, creating its own action plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.


1993

The Northwest Earth Institute opens, bringing sustainable business models and courses to over 80,000 participants.


1994

More than 60 nonprofit environmental and social equity groups band together to form the Coalition for a Livable Future, which promotes healthy and sustainable communities.


1994

In a single year, two restaurants focused on Oregon’s local crops – Higgins and Wildwood —open, turning the Oregon bounty savored a generation before by James Beard into a culinary movement and spurring a local food renaissance.


1994

The city council adopts the Sustainable City Principles for Portland and creates the Sustainable Portland Commission, a citizen advisory group, “to protect the natural beauty and diversity of Portland for future generations.”


1995

Metro launches the 2040 Concept, a 50-year regional planning process involving thousands of citizens. The result: a blueprint for regional and town centers connected by transit corridors, along with the preservation of thousands of acres of parks and natural habitat such as wetlands and streams. Voters pass a $135.6 million bond measure to purchase over 7,877 acres for parks, open space, and watersheds over the next seven years.


1996

The nonprofit Friends of Trees begins its Seed the Future campaign to plant 157,000 trees by 2001.


1996

The City of Portland enlists cyclists to draft the Bicycle Master Plan, a blueprint for more than 200 miles of bikeways, end-of-trip facilities, links to transit, and educational efforts.


1996

The city council establishes a mandatory commercial recycling program requiring businesses to recycle 50 percent of their waste.


1998

To encourage walking trips, the Portland Pedestrian Master Plan outlines a 20-year framework for pedestrian improvements to the city.


1998

Portland applies the Bottle Bill ethos to forsaken industrial land (pictured) as Homer Williams, Joe Weston, John Carroll, and other developers partner with the Portland Development Commission to transform downtown’s polluted former railroad lands and warehouses into the streetcar- and park-laced neighborhood of condos, offices, and parks known as the River District (later the Pearl District).


1998

The Bureau of Environmental Services starts its ecoroof program with an installation atop the Hamilton Building. Grants for builders become available 10 years later with the kickoff of the “Grey to Green” initiative (see 2008).


1998

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality and the Portland Department of Transportation sponsor CarSharing Portland, the first car-sharing program in the country. In a few years it becomes Flexcar, and later merges with Zipcar in 2007.


1999

Recalling Olmsted’s master plan (see 1903), Portland Parks & Recreation staff, along with thousands of residents, begin to develop the Parks 2020 Vision. Its goals include acquiring 1,870 acres of park land, creating public plazas and “green connections,” and establishing Portland as “the walking city of the West.”


2000 Free Geek
Image: Free Geek

2000

Oso Martin extends the Bottle Bill ethos to computers, founding a collective called Free Geek to recycle hardware and provide low- and no-cost technology to individuals and nonprofit organizations worldwide. Now in eight cities, Free Geek estimates it has refurbished over 15,000 computers.












2000

Portland creates the nation’s first Office of Sustainable Development (now the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability) and unveils its Green Building Program to provide financial incentives for sustainable building technologies. The city becomes one of the first to require taxpayer-built and -subsidized buildings to meet the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.