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From Sustainability at Work: GoGreen Portland

GoGreen attendeesOver 300 representatives from the public and private sectors convened October 5 for the 9th annual GoGreen conference sponsored by Sustainability at Work, a program of the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

Mayor-elect Wheeler emphasized in the opening keynote, “There is no question that reversing and combating climate change is this generation’s greatest challenge.”

At the same time, Portland will need to accommodate unprecedented growth. “Portland is expected to grow by 223,000 households by 2035,” stated Joe Zehnder, chief planner at the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, in a dynamic discussion on density. Climate, equity and economic development are at the forefront of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and were at the forefront of the day’s sessions – showing collaborative support across public and private sectors. 

Attendees gained insights from entrepreneurs on the forefront of a low-carbon economy — companies like IOTAS, delivering smart home technology, and Building Energy, offering energy service providers and building owners performance benchmarking tools.

Sustainability at Work outreach tableBusinesses, such as FYMI, CLEAResult, Northwest Natural and Pacific Continental Bank, shared strategies for promoting green practices in the workplace. Successful strategies included: Internal grant programs for employee-generated sustainability initiatives, billable hour accounts for sustainability-related efforts, and annual volunteer days with environmentally focused non-profits. Additional suggestions included building sustainability questions into job postings and interview questions, and creating leadership development opportunities within internal green team efforts.

Presenters shared how their businesses are preparing for game-changing technologies. Laura Bisesto, public policy manager for Lyft, shared her prediction that in five years, autonomous vehicles will provide the majority of Lyft rides across the country, and that by 2025, private car ownership will end.

“The event was a great opportunity to connect with contacts in the green business community and get re-energized,” said Elee Jen with Energy Performance Engineering.