Portland Community College

Portland Community College (PCC) is dedicated to preparing students to be both educated and engaged as environmental stewards of the 21st century. The college’s strategic plan has sustainability integrated into it’s core initiatives. Other key areas include:

  • Student Sustainability Hub created as an online resource for students to reference and contribute to.
  • Sustainability Focus Award encourages students to take classes in a variety of courses to enrich their understanding and knowledge related to climate and sustainability.
  • PCC offers an associate’s degree and certificate in Electronic Engineering Technology: Renewable Energy Systems.
  • STEAM labs are open at two campuses to offer hands on access to equipment and technology such as PVC cells, 3D printers, laser cutters with staff to assist students in projects.
  • Community-based learning opportunities abound at all campuses and students can be engaged in getting service hours as well as learning skills related to areas such as alternative building with cob and working in our learning gardens.
  • PCC actively fosters opportunities for nearby K-12 school districts to have field trips, workshops and summer institutes related to STEM, gardening, microelectronics and other technical education programs.
  • Student job possibilities abound on campus ranging from interns, work study, and co-op to center advocates and student government leaders working as Sustainability and Eco Justice Programs Specialist or Co-op Director.
  • Student clubs thrive with activity and activism from Put a Price on it (carbon tax), Food Recovery Network, to a Garden Club and offer students opportunities to plan, lobby and make a difference.


Climate Innovation

Portland Community College’s commitment to climate innovation is exemplified in many ways some of these include:

  • At our Rock Creek campus, a closed-loop system starts with growing over 10,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables, provides a volunteer for veggies program, supports a weekly campus market, processes organic waste on-site, offers hands-on education, and conserves resources. The Learning Garden includes a fruit orchard, 36 raised beds, and row crops, as well as solar-powered irrigation, a cob shed and oven, a green roof, rainwater catchment, and an apiary. Food grown in the garden is transported via a tryke and used by Food Services in cafeterias and catering, sold at the market, Portlandia FarmStandia or donated on campus, to volunteers or to a nearby Church food pantry. Food waste is composted on-site. Keeping food production and organic waste management hyperlocal reduces our emissions while educating volunteers.
  • The Green Initiative Fund provides mini grants for all sorts of innovative projects such as reusable to go container purchasing, learning gardens, waste education centers, office composting, and efforts to eliminate water bottles on campus.
  • In 2017 the college approved a divestment clause prohibiting direct investments in fossil fuels and socially irresponsible ventures and establishes an annual review of investments by Student Government.
  • PCC is a founding member of the Greater Portland Sustainability Education Network, a UNU-IAS Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development, helping implement Agenda 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The college hosted this year’s annual Sustainability Symposium.


Creating Opportunity

Portland Community College creates opportunity for direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions reductions by:

  • Promoting green building practices with a commitment to LEED Silver in new construction and renewables. The college has nine LEED-certified buildings, including a Net Zero LEED Platinum center, and three solar installments totaling over 700 KW. Education and engagement are incorporated too, such as our CLIMB Center, with a green roof, rain garden, and educational art installment.
  • Reducing energy consumption 65% per square foot since 2006 with efficiency and conservation projects. For example, participating in a Strategic Energy Management cohort with the Energy Trust of Oregon, has produced savings of $56,000 and $19,000 in incentives. To further offset energy-related emissions, the college joined Portland General Electric’s Clean Wind program.
  • Reducing single-occupancy travel with subsidized bus passes, a free shuttle service, rideshare programs and a student-managed 70+ bike rental program, encouraging more than half of commuters to choose alternative transportation.
  • Monitoring supply chain greenhouse gas emissions and including sustainability in its purchasing policy, product standards, vendor questions and scoring criteria in procurement. PCC is the only community college on the Founder’s Circle of the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council.

These practices and more contribute to the college’s proven record of climate innovation as exemplified by receiving these recent awards: 2016 Sustainability Award from APPA: Leadership in Education Facilities and the 2015 Best Case Study from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for work addressing food insecurity at the Rock Creek Campus.