Entrance to Portland State University
By Kkmd, CC BY-SA 3.0

Portland delivers a crazy green city in all the best ways, and that’s part of why I love it here so much. And right in the middle of downtown sits Portland State University — who contributes much to the sustainable lifestyle.

Portland State University is on the leading edge of stormwater management (which we talked about in greater detail as a Portland-wide initiative here.) They’re even pursued and achieved salmon-safe certification! They’ve adopted some pretty stringent energy conservation guidelines. They consolidate evening classes to as few buildings as possible. Suffice it to say, conservation efforts lurk in every corner of the Portland State University Campus. So much so that they’ve put together a sustainability walking tour to showcase all they’re doing.

Portland State University Campus Boasts Sustainability

This 50-acre campus showcases sustainable decisions at every turn. Since 2004, they’ve followed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards (LEED) for all construction. They’ve built geothermal heat pumps in various places. In contrast to normal air-source heat pumps, they use the warmer-in-the-winter and cooler-in-the-summer temperatures to increase efficiency of heating and cooling. From dining establishments to offices to outdoor seating and gardens, they’ve embraced sustainability and made it a lifestyle. In fact, their Climate Action Plan aims to get to carbon neutrality by 2040!

An online map for the self-guided tour can be found here. Portland State University is part of a larger 92-acre Eco-District. PSU owns half the district, and the City of Portland and private commercial owners own the other half. To even become an eco-district, there has to be vision, structure, and a resource pool. If you want to read more about how they pursued achieved this ranking, you can read about it here.


I’ve listed some of the PSU tour highlights below:

Portland State University ASCR Building
By Visitor7 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Academic and Student Recreation Center (ASRC) (2ndstop on the list)

Most college campuses have a pretty high percentage of students who pursue a fit and healthy lifestyle. PSU takes advantage of this desire in a way that benefits the entire student population: reusing workout energy. What?! Yes, PSU equipped all the exercise machines in this building with ReRev technology, which captures the human power and transforms it into electricity to power the building. Even more, this gold-certified building collects rainwater on the roof and uses it to flush toilets, and all building wood is FSC certified.


Stott Community Field

Don’t let the beautiful green expanse fool you — this field is hard-thought, hard-working, and 100% recyclable. Built from 20,000 used tired, the green on this field doesn’t just keep more things from the landfill, it doesn’t require fertilizing or mowing, either. Newly renovated to include Viking Pavilion, a fifty million dollar LEED gold certified addition that includes venues for athletics, education, and entertainment.

Portland State University Stott Community Field
By Visitor7 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0


Lincoln Hall

This building was the very start of Portland State University. Built in 1911, Portland State University renovated it in 2011 to become LEED platinum certified. (Here’s a great video on why this renovation was so needed. PSU’s notoriety in the arts is pretty significant.) Now this building serves as the arts and theatre hub of the campus, and includes theatres, recital halls, scene shops, a costume lab and a film studio. (Besides that, did you know that PSU ranks nationally for their opera program?) Lincoln’s performance hall is one of the best in the region for acoustics and sight lines, so if the opportunity arises to attend a concert there, go! (Here’s a list of a few of the summer happenings in the building and around the area.)


Cramer Hall Room 180: PSU ReUse Room, Studio Supply, and Mug Runners

Students and faculty alike participate in these three initiatives to keep more things out of the landfill and into the hands of people who can use them. The ReUse Room rehomes used office, school, and home supplies. (Think desks, chairs, and all the stuff students don’t want to haul when they’re moving out. They take community donations as well, and lots of times they can even come pick things up.) The best place to keep up with the ReUse Room is Facebook.


The Studio Supply worksjust like the ReUse Room, but it’s designed specifically for art supplies. Their motto is give, take, create.


The Mug Runners save all sorts of containers from the landfill and repurpose them for drinking containers. According to their website, 2-5 containers are left in each lab on campus every single night. Students collect, sanitize, and redistribute them all, usually within a day or two.


Overall, Portland State University has it dialed with it comes to sustainability. From individual initiatives to building and campus-wide decisions, they’re helping to keep Portland green. Thanks for the tour, PSU, and for caring about our city so much!