Oregon: state of green

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BY PETER BARNES

0613 StateOfGreen 01Since passing groundbreaking laws on urban growth and conservation in the 1970s, Oregon has earned a national reputation for its dense web of environmental-protection initiatives. Some 40 years later, the race is on to transform that eco-friendly image into a driving force in the 21st-century low-carbon economy.

The results, measured by job growth, investment, innovation and environmental impact, vary by sector. In transportation, Oregon has become a leader in electric-vehicle infrastructure and cycling. In construction and scientific research, it remains a fount of green-materials development and innovative design, although other states are fast catching up in terms of efficient building. Oregon utilities are meeting benchmarks for renewable power but face more challenging targets in the next decade. Meanwhile, the state’s green-tech manufacturing stands at an inflection point, successful in attracting companies to the state yet vulnerable to the rapid consolidation in solar and wind.

In Oregon the number of private-sector green jobs — defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as work that provides goods or services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources — increased 22% from 2010 to 2011, accounting for nearly 50,000 positions across 10 sectors. That represents 3.7% of the state’s workforce: an indisputably small element that nonetheless helped catapult Oregon to the top of the “Clean Jobs Index” this year, a state ranking compiled by the Denver-based Ecotech Institute measuring retention and creation of green jobs.

Known for confronting environmental challenges early and aggressive pursuit of green businesses, Oregon likes to dash in front of the pack. Sometimes it trips over itself in the process — perhaps best evidenced by the spate of heavily subsidized solar companies that have cut jobs since the beginning of the year. Indeed, after spending $343 million in the past four fiscal years to finance energy conservation, renewable power and green development via the Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC), the state dissolved the program last year amid accusations that participants were splitting up projects to maximize their take.

Aiming to scale its green growth, limit environmental impacts and maintain a competitive edge in an era marked increasingly by austerity, Oregon and its standing in the green economy are best judged in the sectors where the state has invested the most: construction, transportation, manufacturing, utilities and research. Here is a snapshot of the accomplishments, the setbacks and the challenges ahead.



 

More Articles

7 industry trends of 2015

The Latest
Friday, January 09, 2015
covertrends15-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Industry groups identify top trends for 2015.


Read more...

5 companies react to lower fuel prices

The Latest
Thursday, January 15, 2015
thumb-shutterstock 233787049BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Consumers love the savings they get from low oil prices, but how has business been affected?


Read more...

Chronicling Gov. Kitzhaber's march to resignation

The Latest
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
021115-kitzhaber-jekaplan14-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Recapping a wild week featuring plenty of will he or won't he resign drama.


Read more...

100 Best: The Power of the Worker

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
AND AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Technology is empowering people like never before and transforming how employees interact in the workplace. How can companies attract and keep staff engaged in this rapidly changing world?


Read more...

How a Utah-based essential oils company cornered the Oregon market

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Multilevel marketing, health claims and zyto scanner biofeedback machines: How dōTERRA thrives in Oregon. 


Read more...

Carbon Power

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Researchers in a multitude of disciplines are searching for ways to soak up excess carbon dioxide, the compound that contributes to global warming.


Read more...

Grassroots movement pursues carbon bills

News
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
eventthumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A partnership of a grassroots environmental organization and a youth group is striving to build community and business support for carbon price legislation.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS