Eco-districts take center stage
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
A summit in Portland this week is fostering talk about eco-districts, a budding concept in sustainable development that could bolster the city's already solid image as a leader in urban planning.
So far the conversation is mostly hovering at a policy level. About 300 people, primarily regional leaders, converged Monday at the EcoDistricts Summit 2010 at Portland State University to discuss the idea and it’s local potential.
The conference comes at a time when the Portland Sustainability Institute, its host, stands ready to initiate eco-district development in two of its five planned pilot districts in the coming year. The Lents neighborhood and Lloyd District are taking the first steps toward organization. Also targeted are Gateway, South Waterfront and Portland State University — all of the targeted eco-district neighborhoods are urban renewal areas.
Should the concept take hold, future development in those areas would aim to embrace all facets of sustainable development, including everything from green building and redevelopment, to low-carbon transportation options, renewable power generation and farmers markets.
"What we're trying to do with eco-districts is really trying to layer all of those strategies … as a way of concentrating resources and strategies in one neighborhood" to see whether it works, said Naomi Cole, program manager of the Portland Sustainability Institute.
"The conference broadly is meant to move forward the conversation around neighborhood level sustainability," said Cole.
Rick Williams, executive director of Lloyd Transportation Management Association, said the conversation is already alive in the Lloyd District, where a resource council is being formed and local businesses, along with entities such as the Portland Development Commission, are signing letters of intent to build an eco-district in the 35-block neighborhood. The organizations and businesses involved are committing to provide funding, hire a sustainability director, provide research and a senior-level manager to the council, tasked with exploring the eco-district idea.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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