Going Green

New rankings beg question: what makes Portland sustainable?

Can our ability to live healthily, prosperously and durably over multiple generations (my rough definition of sustainability) be gauged by simply totaling up new construction and how many gizmos it features, dollars spent, and the new kilowatt-hour reducing technology we build? Or should our analysis be a little more complex? Should we explore our actual behaviors, i.e., the actual effectiveness of the programs we incent, the way our buildings - LEED or not - get used and the type of demands we place on our power grid? Wouldn't that be the real measure of sustainability?

My un-scientific, un-journalistic assumption is that Portland would probably end up pretty far ahead on that sort of scale as well, but we -- everyone, but particularly journalists reporting on the environment -- might be well served by asking these sort of questions.

Where should green planning efforts come from?

Hundreds of urban planners, architects, developers, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and policymakers danced around this question last week as they convened on Portland for the second annual Ecodistricts Summit.

Hosted by the Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI), the event complements a maturing experiment to make five of the Oregon metropolis's neighborhoods into "Ecodistricts," neighborhoods designed to be more sustainable.

Will Going Green be the Next Way We Go Bust?

Whether or not green is the new black, more and more Americans are reaching for ecologically-shaded opportunities as they try to spin their fortunes out of the red. With enthusiasm echoing the early days of the dot-com boom and the heady days of sub prime loans and home flipping, would-be entrepreneurs are starting to gamble that the solution to their economic puzzles is spelled e-n-v-i-r-o-n-m-e-n-t. But are they kidding themselves? Will a wind turbine manufacturer or biofuel harvester generate stock prices beyond everyone's wildest expectations, only to tumble like the next Enron? Will green investment lead to gold, or more empty pockets?