Cool, new efficiencies at PDX

Guest blog by OEC Business Member, Port of Portland,

If you’ve visited the Portland International Airport recently, you may have noticed the green and red indicators in the parking garage that indicate where (and how many) parking spots are available.  This innovative system not only makes it easier to find a free parking space, it also reduces pollution – cars no longer have to circle the lot to find a space. It’s just one of the innovative ways the Port of Portland is helping save money and work to reduce emissions.

Air quality policy

In 2001, the Port of Portland made a long-term commitment to reduce impacts on air quality through establishing a Port Commission-approved air quality policy.  Efforts over the last 16-years have reduced diesel particulate emissions by approximately 70 percent below year 2000 baseline levels.

Clean fuels, cleaner engines, idling reduction, infrastructure investment and energy efficiency are all strategies that helped achieve reductions. Examples include:

  • Setting a goal with accountability. Through the annual environmental objectives and targets process, the Port has set a target to reduce diesel particulate matter emission from Port-controlled operations by 75 percent from 2000 baseline levels by 2020. Emission inventories track progress and guide the Port in making strategic investments that will achieve the most environmental benefits. The inventories provide scientifically valid data to improve understanding of the location and magnitude of emissions, which supports the planning and prioritization of pollution prevention projects.

  • Replacing and upgrading engines. Replacement of the Dredge Oregon engines, which maintains the Columbia River navigational channel, reduced diesel particulate emissions by over 80 percent in 2013. The Port has researched engines with lower emissions that meet EPA guidelines to guide future equipment purchases.

  • Cleaner fuels. All airport shuttle buses now run on clean-burning compressed natural gas. The Port’s vehicle fleet includes electric and hybrid vehicles. Portland International Airport has 63 electric vehicle-charging stations, the most of any airport in the country.
  • Investing in infrastructure. Shore-side power is available for US Army Corps of Engineers Vessels at Terminal 2 and for Shaver Transportation tugs at Terminal 6, reducing engine idling and emissions by providing electricity access. Shore-side power is feasible for vessels with high power usage and frequent visits as well as tugboats and workboats because they have a home base where they always moor.
  • Anti-idling programs. The Port
    is reducing emissions from idling vehicles with signage, quick pay kiosks, parking guidance system and cell phone waiting lots. Alternative transportation options further reduce emissions from idling engines; TriMet Red Line provides direct access to PDX and bike paths and facilities support cycling, with more improvements planned. 
    Terminal 6, located along the Columbia River, uses optical character recognition technology for trucks entering and exiting the facility to reduce engine idling time. The technology processes up to three trucks per minute, saving time, money and reducing emissions.

Along with strategic investments, the Port is working with partners to advance policy-level changes that will make measurable improvements in Oregon’s air quality.  The Port is working cooperatively with the City of Portland, Multnomah County and Metro to explore the feasibility of developing an effective and uniform clean diesel construction specification that could be adopted by participating jurisdictions in the Portland-metro region.  

Port programs and projects continue to evolve and respond to changes in technologies, transportation and community interests.  For the latest updates and details on environmental and community news, please visit Port Currents.


To become a Business Member with Oregon Environmental Council, contact Kevin Kasowski, Director of Foundations and Corporate Relations


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