Portland, Oregon Green Streets Program

Portland, Oregon’s Green Streets are streets that use vegetated facilities to manage stormwater runoff. Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) Green Street Program is a sustainable stormwater strategy that meets regulatory compliance and resource protection goals by using a natural systems approach to manage stormwater, reduce flows, improve water quality and enhance watershed health.

Portland’s Green Streets Program started in 2003 with its first pilot demonstration projects.  BES studied these projects to evaluate their performance and modify designs before implementing Green Streets more widely. From 2005 to 2007, Portland commissioned an inter-agency Green Streets Team to develop a comprehensive green streets policy, acknowledging that infrastructure systems benefit when planning, design, and budgeting are integrated. Among the agencies represented the Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Office of Transportation, Bureau of Development Services, Bureau of Planning, Bureau of Water Works, Parks and Recreation, Office of Sustainable Development, Portland Development Commission, Bureau of Maintenance, and the Commissioner’s Office. Such collaboration allowed the team to effectively identify and address potential barriers, such as codes that would discourage green street strategies and the delegation of maintenance responsibilities.

In April 2007, the Portland City Council approved a Green street resolution, report, and policy to promote and incorporate the use of green street facilities in public and private development.

As stated on their web site, the Green Streets Program:

  • Reduces polluted stormwater entering Portland’s rivers and streams
  • Improves pedestrian and bicycle safety
  • Diverts stormwater from the sewer system and reduces flooding, sewer backups and combined sewer overflows to the Willamette River
  • Reduces impervious surface so stormwater can infiltrate to recharge groundwater and surface water
  • Increases urban green space
  • Improves air quality and reduce air temperatures
  • Reduces demand on the city’s sewer collection system and the cost of constructing expensive pipe systems
  • Addresses requirements of federal and state regulations to protect public health and restore watershed health
  • Increases opportunities for industry professionals

Technical guidance documents with standard construction details, designs, and recommended plantings have also been developed and published on the Green Streets website. The site includes illustrated reports describing various completed Green Street projects in terms of their design, cost, site selection, stormwater capacity, plants, maintenance, monitoring, successes, and lessons learned. 

Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services also developed a Green Street Steward program in which citizens of Portland can partner with the city and lend assistance with simple activities that include picking up trash, removing leaves and debris, weeding and watering.




Publication Date: 2007

Related Organizations:

  • Portland, Oregon Bureau of Environmental Services
  • City of Portland, Oregon

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  • Best practice
  • Case study

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