Sponsored by Oregon Business

Developing districts

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Defining an eco-district

0612 DevelopingDistricts Sidebar01An eco-district is more a way of thinking about environmentally sustainable practices than a physically transformed space.

At first blush, the term seems to suggest a defined area filled with green spaces, hybrid vehicles, state-of-the-art mass transit systems and green buildings sprouting solar arrays and green roofs. Those could all be elements of an eco-district, but Portland eco-district leaders say the concept is more a way to get businesses, government agencies and residents to agree on a shared set of values centered around sustainability and environmental awareness.

“Eco-districts are a framework,” says Nicole Isle, director of sustainability and planning for green consultant Brightworks’ western region.

In other words, a visitor might not notice much difference between a shopping excursion in an eco-district versus a non-eco-district. But the shopper doesn’t see the food-waste-to-compost initiative undertaken by the area restaurants, or the energy efficient upgrades building owners agreed to implement, or the highly efficient district-wide energy system. The visitor might not even notice that existing park and open spaces now have many more trees busy sequestering carbon.

Most eco-district proposals center around energy efficient buildings and water systems, storm water and run-off improvements, transportation, green spaces, incentives for residents and employees to use mass transit, and food-waste composting.

An eco-district is a neighborhood or other distinct district with a broad commitment to accelerating district scale sustainability, according to the Portland Sustainability Institute. The idea is to create a triple-bottom-line community with the lowest environmental impact and the highest long-term economic and community returns.

At its heart, the eco-district movement is a way to get all the parties in a defined district to agree on measures that lead to the coveted triple bottom line: good for people, the planet and business profits. For more information, visit the eco-district section at pdxinstitute.org.

Dan McMillan is a Portland-based journalist. His previous story for Oregon Business was on Diebold Lumber. Reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


More Articles

Photo Log: #TillamookSmile

The Latest
Friday, October 30, 2015
103015-cheesethumbBY CHRIS NOBLE | ART DIRECTOR

Against a changing backdrop Patrick Criseter’s infectious grin remained constant. It’s a cheesy (pun intended) beam that begs for a hashtag.


The cover story

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 12, 2015

I walked off the Vigor Industrial shipyard that day with a clear cover line in mind: the Love Boat.


The Cover Story

The Latest
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
100515-cover1015-news-thumbBY CHRIS NOBLE

As we worked on the October cover, it became evident that Nick Symmonds is a hard man to catch — even when he’s not hotfooting it around a track.


OEN director to step down in 2016

Linda Baker
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
0915 storyteller01BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

After 16 years of service, the much-loved executive director of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network will retire.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


Meet Me at the Crossroads, ESPN

The Latest
Friday, October 30, 2015

Worldwide Leader in Sports struggles to cope with new media landscape, forcing us to adjust our behavior as consumers.



Linda Baker
Thursday, November 12, 2015
111215-taxilindaBY LINDA BAKER

Raye Miles, a 17-year taxi industry veteran, lacked the foresight to anticipate the single biggest trend in the cab business: breaking the law.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02