Office of Planning and Budgeting

How Other Campuses Plan: Sustainability as Part of Campus Planning

Welcome to two new topics on OPBlog: Campus Planning and Capital Resources as they relate to a unified approach to capital planning. We will begin posting on topics related to capital resources, capital budgets, campus planning, and national trends in those areas.  This first post looks at planning efforts in Portland and the role Universities play in urban planning.

A 2009 report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy titled “Town-Gown Collaboration in Land Use and Development”   reinforces ongoing research that suggests over the past 20 years universities play a much broader role in the economic, social, and physical development in their neighborhoods.  As universities continue to lead the urban planning process with their surrounding communities, the concept of EcoDistricts – planning for sustainability at a district level – may play an important role in the overall discussion of how a community develops.  In fact, in Portland, one of the pilot EcoDistricts is in partnership with Portland State University (PSU). 

What are EcoDistricts? EcoDistricts are a comprehensive strategy developed by the Portland Sustainability Institute to accelerate sustainable neighborhood development. Through partnerships with the region, institutions, and businesses, Portland created the Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI).  The institute “…brings together business, higher education, nonprofit and municipal leaders to drive a set of next generation urban sustainability initiatives for the Portland metro region.”  In essence, it is a not-for-profit that supports the coordination of multiple sustainability efforts to maximize outcomes.  It supports the planning of community initiatives at a district level rather than individual initiatives in hope that the district level planning will have a more significant impact.   According to Making EcoDistricts, a publication published by PoSI, sustainability is achieved over time.  “It’s not the product of a program, project, or initiative, though all these things are important and help.” Portland, Oregon, has embarked on a path of sustainability through district-level planning not unlike campus planning. Although urban sustainability is not new, the approach Portland is taking is being explored as a model for other cities and universities.


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