Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Building a greener workforce and shrinking our carbon footprint

Man standing among tomato plants

Environmental center coordinator Josh Liebschutz checks on the Sylvania Learning Garden, which composts waste from campus eateries to fertilize the garden, which in turn grows produce and herbs that can be used in the cafeteria.

At PCC, sustainability isn’t just an ideal; it’s a commitment. From environmentally sound operating practices to a curriculum that supports our region’s emerging green industries, PCC is committed to doing its part to protect our natural resources. By working with industry leaders and sustainability organizations such as Earth Advantage to create relevant curriculum, PCC ensures that students are learning the right skills to meet the needs of this growing industry.

How it Works

Sustainability at PCC is a commitment that comes from the very top and is focused on building a foundation that will ensure consistent and lasting progress. Institutional commitments include:
PCC instills sustainability in our educational offerings and is at the forefront of training students for careers in sustainability. Academic programs include renewable energy options in electronic engineering technology and solar voltaic options in microelectronics technology. In 2008, the National Science Foundation awarded PCC almost $700,000 to infuse sustainability content, practices, tools and techniques into PCC programs that impact the built environment.
Community outreach.
Non-credit Community Education courses in provide community residents with the tools they need to make their lives and neighborhoods more sustainable. Green Living classes are offered in urban farming, waste minimization, water conservation, solar energy, natural building and more.
Campus Green Teams.
Led by faculty and student volunteers, PCC Green Teams help organize events and support sustainability initiatives such as campus waste audits and recycling programs.
LEED certification.
PCC's goal is for all new construction to achieve at least LEED silver certification, a building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. PCC's Willow Creek Center achieved LEED platinum certification, the highest ranking possible. Willow Creek Center, completed in 2009, is the first LEED Platinum certified building in Washington County.
Recycling and waste reduction.
PCC food services uses biodegradable serving ware in all campus cafeterias. The Rock Creek Campus vermicomposting system creates a closed loop that takes pre-consumer cafeteria scrap, composts it and uses it in the garden to grow food to serve again in the cafeteria. The Sylvania Learning Garden is beginning to create a similar system.
PCC's Transportation Service strives to reduce single-occupant vehicle ridership by providing free intercampus shuttles, discounts for student TriMet passes, pre-tax payroll deduction TriMet passes for employees, discount parking permits for carpools and free bicycle and motorcycle parking. With any new construction, PCC's goal is to locate sites in locations with excellent public transportation options. New facilities such as the Downtown Center (located TriMet's Red and Blue Max lines) and Willow Creek Center (located on TriMet’s Blue Max Line) meet this goal.