Highlights from World Environment Day in Portland
As the North American host of World Environment Day, the City of Roses wasn’t content with keeping it to one day.
By Bobby Hayden
As the North American host of World Environment Day – selected by the United Nations Environment Programme – the City of Roses wasn’t content with keeping it to one day. That’s why, for over a month, Portlanders have enjoyed a multitude of events around the city, celebrating our success toward sustainability and illuminating all the work left to be done. Here are just two highlights from this fantastic week in Portland:
Drive Oregon / NRDC: Taking the Greener Road with Electric Vehicles
Jeff Allen, Emmaline Pohnl and Chelsey Hice of Drive Oregon
On Tuesday, our friends at Drive Oregon hosted an insightful presentation by Max Baumhefner, Sustainable Energy Fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Mr. Baumhefner dove into the most recent data on the environmental impact of electric vehicles and examined the unique opportunities for integrating more renewable energy into the electrical grid made possible by electric vehicles. He also drove home the idea that making the switch to electric is motivating buyers to go even further with green choices. He paraphrased from one of his recent blogs:
Everyone knows that gasoline is made from oil, and how much a gallon of the stuff costs at the pump, but most people would be hard pressed to accurately explain what a kilowatt-hour is, let alone what one costs, or how it was made. Thankfully, research suggests that when people plug in their cars, they start to think differently about their energy sources and choices. If you choose to drive on electricity, you’ll be driving free of oil, as less than one percent of our nation’s electricity is derived from petroleum. Driving an electric car on the average U.S. electricity mix also emits only half the amount of global warming pollution as does the average new passenger vehicle. In California, where the grid is cleaner, an electric car emits only a quarter as much. However, many drivers are motivated to go even further and drive emission-free, often on homemade energy. Thirty-nine percent of the first wave of California’s electric car adopters have solar on their roofs, and an additional 17 percent say they will install solar within a year.
That’s over 50 percent of electric car buyers opting to use energy generated at home to power their transportation. Pretty darn cool.
Be sure to check out both Drive Oregon and Max Baumhefner’s blog via NRDC’s Switchboard.
We were honored to be among the exhibitors Thursday night at the Innovation Celebration, a collaborative event highlighting positive solutions from around the region.
The fantastic suite of speakers included First Lady of Oregon Cylvia Hayes, Amy Fraenkl, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office (North America), Dr. Kim Smith, Sociology Instructor at Portland Community College, Dr. Jennifer Allen, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University, and Mike Wetter, Executive Director of the Intertwine Alliance. Wetter took time to honor local elected officials such as Forest Grove Mayor Peter B. Truax and Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten who, while flying at times under the radar, have put triple bottom line sustainability at the forefront of their agendas).
We were also treated to the beautiful native harmonies of Cedar Rose, an amazing slideshow presentation by acclaimed photojournalist Gary Braasch, and the evening was capped off with a big screen version of this: