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Green Briefs: Solarize wins national honor

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The city of Portland’s Solarize program received one of 25 Innovation in American Government Awards, bestowed by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Under the Solarize program, people in participating neighborhoods were invited to workshops on the technical, financial and environmental issues involved in adding photovoltaic solar panels to their rooftops.

One solar contractor served all those who signed up in a neighborhood area, enabling bulk purchases of solar panels and other materials, and group discounts.

Portland’s program was offered several times within various quadrants of the city. The number of installed solar systems in the city grew 400 percent in three years, and Solarize gets much of the credit. Based on that success, the Solarize model was replicated by other communities in Oregon and elsewhere.

“Solarize Portland used the power of social marketing to inspire investments in solar, and made it easy at the same time,” says Susan Anderson, director of the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

“We know the program works, as other cities from around the country have copied the neighborhood-based effort — imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.”

The city bureau worked with Energy Trust of Oregon and Solar Oregon on the Solarize program.

Waterfront greenway expands

The city of Portland opened up the latest stretch of its Willamette River greenway trail on May 14, in the South Waterfront community.

The new segment of park, which cost $15.5 million including environmental restorations, provides five river overlooks, benches, native trees and shrubs, lawn areas, public art and nearly a quarter-mile of waterfront trail for bicycling, walking or running. More than 32,000 tons of contaminated soil and debris were removed from the site. The restoration added 25,500 square feet of rocky, shallow water habitat designed so juvenile salmon can take refuge from predators.

Formerly a polluted “brownfield,” the site was cleaned up and developed into a classy park, thanks to $9.3 million from Portland Parks & Recreation, $4 million from the Portland Development Commission’s urban renewal funds, $1.4 million from TriMet, and $750,000 from the city Bureau of Environmental Services. The parks bureau funded its share via Systems Development Charges levied on new developments to pay for parks.

The completed segment is the first of three South Waterfront chunks to be done.

Other segments to the north and south are in the planning stage.

Students create mini park

Portland State University’s student-built SoMa Parklet is ready for public use, thanks to $15,641 in community funds.

The parklet provides covered seating in place of two parking spaces on Southwest Fourth Avenue, next to the food carts between College and Hall streets.

Students in PSU Assistant Professor B.D. Wortham-Galvin’s architecture class have been working this term to build different parts of the structure, including the seating, tables and planters.

They installed it over Memorial Day weekend and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 1.

The parklet was designed by students with reused, recycled and sustainable materials and uses native plants for efficient stormwater management. It’s a partnership with the SoMa (South of Market) EcoDistrict, and the first true public project of the Portland Street Seats program, since most are owned and operated by restaurants or other businesses and allow for private access only.

For more: www.pdx.edu/the-arts/soma-parklet-project.