• Energy: Buildings, Transportation, and Renewables

  • Energy Use at PPS

    The Climate Crisis Response Policy (CCRP) states that "PPS will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030, using the 2018-2019 school year baseline, and reach net zero emissions by 2040."


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    PPS Decarbonization public input summaries

    Thank you so much to everyone who provided feedback to our team about how PPS can prioritize competing needs while meeting our Climate Crisis Response Policy goals. There will be additional opportunities for public input as this process continues. 

    Click here for a summary of our stakeholder engagement sessions.

    Portland Public Schools (PPS) is embarking on a path to reach net-zero emissions. Decarbonizing the district will improve community health and comfort, resiliency, and student learning outcomes while lowering operating costs and reducing our carbon footprint. The PPS Climate Crisis Response, Climate Justice and Sustainable Practices Policy sets district goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030, using the 2018-2019 school year as a baseline, and reach net zero emissions by 2040.

    Working with a diverse team led by PAE Consulting Engineers, Oh Planning and Design, New Buildings Institute, and Ameresco, PPS is developing a district-wide decarbonization “road map.” This road map will allow PPS to effectively allocate resources and prioritize projects over the next 20 years by answering the question: 

    “How can PPS most effectively implement GHG emissions reduction measures to give us the best chance of meeting our emissions goals, given financial, industry, and facility constraints, while considering historic inequities in the distribution of resources across PPS?”


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Energy and Utility Dashboard

Interested in learning more about energy use across the district and at your school? Check out the PPS Energy and Utility Dashboard to view utility usage, utility cost, solar production, and Energy Use Intensity, by building. 



  • Bus Transportation and Electrification

    E-Bus press conferenceTransportation is a big part of PPS' total carbon emissions -- it's 10%. (And that number only includes our maintenance cars and our buses. It doesn't include staff or family transportation.) As our third biggest source of emissions, transportation represents a BIG opportunity for us to reduce our greenhouse gases. 

    All the way back in 1983, PPS made the progressive and environmentally friendly step to transition our entire bus fleet to propane. For nearly 4 decades, we have been running buses on a fuel that is substantially less carbon intensive than most other districts. We're very proud of that!

    But now we need to transition our fleet again -- this time to electric. This year, PPS began operating its first two all-electric school buses. In the photo to the left, student journalists check out the new buses alongside Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero. 

    The path towards bus and vehicle electrification is, more than anything, expensive. While prices of electric vehicles should drop across the board over the next decade, electric buses today are still 3-4 times more expensive than a regular propane bus. The PPS transportation team is actively seeking ways to procure electric buses, including exploring creative new models through companies like Highland, and through transportation grants from PGE, PacificPower, the state of Oregon, and federal government programs like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.  


  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory and decarbonization roadmap

    The first step towards meeting the Climate Crisis Response Policy goals was to understand the current environmental impact of PPS operations so that we can measure our progress in the years to come. 

    PPS partnered with Good Company to conduct a Greenhouse Gas Inventory to establish PPS’s baseline GHG emissions using 2018-2019 as the baseline year, as called for by the policy. You can read the full report here. 

    Key FindingsPPS emissions by category: 48% natural gas, 41% Electricity, 10% Fleet fuels, 1% Solid Waste

    • Current GHG emissions: 46,055 Metric Tons CO2, equivalent to about 10,000 passenger vehicles driven for 1 year. 

    • The policy calls for 50% reduction of PPS emissions by 2030, so we have 7 years to reduce that number down to 23,027 MT CO2.

    • Top emission sources for PPS: Electrical, Natural Gas, and Transportation. 

    We believe that energy efficiency and solar will be the quickest and most cost effective ways to achieve our shorter-term goals, and that building electrification will be the most effective way to meet our longterm goals. Success will also depend on Oregon's utilities -- PGE and Pacific Power -- meeting their own targets around providing clean electricity by 2040. However these decisions are complicated and will almost certainly require tradeoffs to be made. It's important that we establish a reliable and transparent system for getting feedback directly from our community about how to make some of those choices. In order to do that, we've commissioned PAE Engineers to develop a decarbonization roadmap for the district.

    This roadmap will help answer the question: in what order should PPS implement GHG emissions reductions measures across schools and admin buildings in order to provide the best chance of meeting PPS emissions goals, given financial, industry, and facility constraints, while considering historic inequities in the distribution of resources across PPS? 


  • Energy Efficiency

    Energy efficiency means using energy more effectively and is frequently a technological change, such as switching to programmable thermostats that monitor temperature based on occupancy or replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs. Energy efficiency measures aim to use less energy while providing the same level of comfort, performance, or convenience that students and teachers are used to. 

    Portland Public Schools has been able to tap into the Oregon Department of Energy’s Senate Bill 1149 Energy Program. The program distributes funds to PPS to improve efficiency through energy reduction and conservation capital projects. PPS has used this funding to perform comprehensive energy audits on all of our facilities, and continues to implement the projects identified by those audits.


  • Solar at PPS

    Portland Public School roofs provide an ideal space for generating renewable electricity. And over the past decade-plus, we have done our best to install solar panels, but we have a lot more work to do.

    Solar panels on Kellogg Middle School

    Since 2012, PPS officially puts solar on the roofs of all new school buildingsThat means that all the schools that have been (and will be) rebuilt through the bond modernization project will have solar arrays on the rooftop that generate electricity. That includes, so far, Franklin, Grant, Roosevelt, Lincoln, McDaniel, Faubion PK-8, Kellogg Middle School, and the new Multiple Pathways to Graduation Building at Benson and Benson high school.

    As of 2023, solar energy projects can be found at 18 PPS schools through the Solar Roof Project, Solar 4R Schools, and other grant-funded programs. These 18 solar installations help generate 6% of the district's total electricity use. 

    A primary recommendation in Good Company's PPS Greenhouse Gas emissions analysis is to "continue developing onsite solar and consider participation in renewable electricity programs." PPS is exploring all options for ways to increase the solar productivity of our roofs -- community solar programs that help benefit local communities by reducing their energy use, grants available through federal and state governments, federal solar rebates, and community partnerships.

    Solar panels on Roosevelt High School

     You can learn more about the history of PPS solar here (our partnerhsip with Clean Energy Bright Futures and PGE) and here (information about all the solar projects we've installed through our school modenization program).

    You can also access an energy dashboard that includes many of our sites' solar production data and makes a great tool for in-class energy research that is local and relevant for PPS students. 

     

     


    Solar panels on Roosevelt High School

     

    Solar panels on Kellogg Middle School


  • Faubion Middle School, a LEED Gold building

    Faubion PK-8 School, a LEED Gold building

  • LEED Certified Buildings

    PPS has a commitment to designing and constructing green buildings that are sustainable, resilient, healthy, and efficient. All bond modernization projects will be LEED certified.

    • Complete rebuilds (new construction) will be LEED Gold
    • Modernizations (major renovations) will be LEED Silver