2000

Gerding Edlen Development begins transforming the old Blitz Weinhard Brewery into the Brewery Blocks, transforming five moribund downtown blocks into the city’s most successful mixed-use development. All six buildings and renovations are LEED-rated, launching Gerding Edlen as the nation’s premier sustainable developer.


2000

Led by Planning Director Gil Kelley, Portland embarks on a ‘River Renaissance’ initiative. It begins with community workshops asking over a thousand citizens to envision the Willamette River (pictured) of the future. One year later, the city council grants its endorsement, uniting eight city bureaus in an effort to clean up the river, create a working harbor, and keep the waterfront livable, accessible, beautiful, and economically sound.


2001

Portland pioneers the first Green Investment Fund, a city grant program to offset the costs of adventuresome new sustainable-building techniques and technologies.


20010 Ecotrust
Image: Ecotrust

2001

Ecotrust applies the Bottle Bill ethos to architecture, developing the nation’s first LEED-rated historic renovation in the country, the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center (pictured). It quickly becomes the city’s hub of sustainable business and government.


2001

The first new streetcar line to be built in the United States in 50 years begins serving downtown Portland. More than $1 billion in development rises along the eight-mile line.


May 2001

The Eastbank Esplanade opens. Critics call it a $30 million jogging path. Advocates see it as the first step toward transforming the east bank of the Willamette into an extension of downtown and emphasizing the river as the heart of the city. The citizens vote—with candles and with their feet—by turning the esplanade into a living circle of light on the weekend after 9/11.


2004

Portland meets the Kyoto Protocol, with greenhouse gas emissions calculated at only 1 percent above 1990 levels, an achievement largely attributed to the urban growth boundary’s check on the region’s vehicle miles traveled per capita.


2005

In what may be an indicator of future residential services, the Office of Sustainable Development creates Portland Composts!, a voluntary program that allows commercial customers to separate their food waste for compost and soil amendment. Over 375 businesses participate.


2006

Voters pass a second regional open spaces bond, unleashing an additional $227.4 million for more parks and open space across the state.


2006

A 3,000-foot aerial tram line links landlocked Oregon Health & Science University to the land-rich North Macadam industrial area. The result: the South Waterfront District —the city’s boldest, riskiest redevelopment ever. The add-water-and-stir neighborhood is a 20-year vision for the city’s densest collection of jobs, housing, green buildings, and streets, all next to its most fish-friendly stretch of river.


2006

In response to public interest, the city council forms the Peak Oil Task Force, a citizen advisory group charged with developing recommendations for Portland should it face a decline in oil and natural gas supplies. Their 2007 report advises the city to reduce oil consumption by 50 percent over the next 25 years and prepare emergency plans for sudden and severe shortages.


2007

The city council gets even more aggressive with the existing climate-protection plan when it directs bureaus to reduce carbon emissions levels to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.


2008

With bicycle commuters rolling along at a percentage eight times the national average, Portland becomes the largest city in history to earn the League of American Bicyclists’ platinum designation.


April 16, 2008

City Commissioner Sam Adams launches “Grey to Green” which adds an 11-cent monthly surcharge to residents’ sewer bills to generate $50 million over five years. The money will be used to plant 83,000 trees, create 43 acres of ecoroofs, launch 920 green street projects, and restore key habitat areas.


2008

Northeast Portland sees Helensview become city’s first affordable housing community to receive LEED Neighborhood Development certification.


2009

Portland State University implements a new $25 million grant to support research initiatives in sustainability university-wide. Mayor Sam Adams creates the Portland + Oregon Sustainability Institute to better synthesize business, academic, nonprofit, and government initiatives in hopes of assuring Portland’s continued national leadership in sustainable urban and economic development.