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Portland EcoDistricts Initiative

The EcoDistricts Initiative developed by the Portland Sustainability Institute, in partnership with the City of Portland, is a comprehensive strategy to accelerate sustainable neighborhood development.

An EcoDistrict is a neighborhood or district with a broad commitment to accelerate neighborhood-scale sustainability. EcoDistricts commit to achieving ambitious sustainability performance goals, guiding district investments and community action, and tracking the results over time.

The Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI) drafted a Framework, released in March 2010, to clarify the value proposition, define performance areas, and outline an implementation strategy.

The EcoDistricts Initiative is distinct from most green development strategies focusing on brownfield or greenfield development that are primarily led by master developers or public agencies. Instead, the EcoDistricts Initiative targets neighborhoods ‘” at the intersection of buildings, infrastructure and people. PoSI is working upstream of rating systems like LEED-ND to develop tools and strategies for engagement and project implementation.

The EcoDistricts Initiative brings together community stakeholders, property developers, utilities, and the City of Portland to solidify a shared sense of purpose and partnership through the following actions:

  • Create an engagement and governance strategy to build community support, set priorities, and act
  • Develop an assessment and management toolkit to guide project development and track ongoing performance
  • Implement sustainability projects through technical and economic feasibility analysis, assembly of project financing, and establishment of public-private partnerships
  • Identify commercialization opportunities for companies to test promising products and practices
  • Establish municipal policy and regulatory structures to support EcoDistrict development

To test these concepts, PoSI is working with five pilot districts to guide strategic planning, community engagement and catalytic investments. The EcoDistricts pilot process includes the following four phases:

1. Engagement to Governance
2. Assessment and Action Planning
3. Feasibility and Project Implementation
4. Ongoing Monitoring