Portland is leading by example with its environmental and energy program. Learn more about Portland's efforts in energy conservation, environmental performance, reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.Link to page
Portland is leading in its efforts to reduce its impact on Climate Change through mitigation efforts such as reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change through adaptation (a.k.a. resiliency). Learn more about what Portland is doing.Link to page
Portland is being proactive with regard to planning for the future. Sea level rise and potential climate change impacts such as greater, more frequent, and more intense rainfall events are included in the consideration of public projects. Learn more about Portland's efforts.Link to page
Portland supports a host of initiatives to improve the health and sustainability of the food system that support our community such as composting programs, community gardens, farmer's markets, and increasing access to healthier food at school, in neighborhoods, and at other community locations.Link to page
Information about Portland's shopping bag fee and polystyrene and foam packaging ban.Link to page
Portland has a pay-as-you-throw municipal waste reduction program. This program charges a per bag fee for residential and some commercial waste. Portland's recycling program is single sort and free at the curb and at some collection locations throughout the city. Backyard and curbside collected composting is encouraged.Link to page
Portland has over a thousand acres of parks and open spaces filled with walking trails and natural spaces available to the public. Explore what Portland's parks and open spaces have to offer you.Link to page
Solid Waste Task Force Report 2011Link to page
The stormwater service charge, which goes into effect January 1, 2016, is about valuing stormwater and therefore more equitably and fairly paying for sewer and stormwater costs. Instituting a stormwater charge more fairly and equitably distributes costs among the users of the sewer and stormwater systems.Link to page
Energy Efficiency Funding
There are loans, grants, rebates, and programs available for homeowners and business owners to make improvements to their buildings through City of Portland programs and programs available through the State. Other credits and deductions are available through the federal tax system.
The City of Portland works with and supports a number of groups that promote sustainability in various ways:
Transportation accounts for over 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in Portland. Reducing the amount of time and miles spent in our vehicles can help reduce our contribution to climate change and improve the air quality in the city, benefiting the health of our communities. There are a number of different ways you can get around locally and within the region.
Walk in your neighborhood – Walking is a great way to get exercise, explore your neighborhood, socialize with friends and neighbors, and spend time with your family. We are lucky to live in a city where there are so many beautiful places to walk, like the Western and Eastern Proms, the Back Cove, as well as through the historic Old Port and along the waterfront. Explore Portland's vast open spaces through Portland Trails.
Bike around town – Major Portland streets are lined with bike lanes. Like walking, biking is a great way to get exercise, and a form of transportation that does not rely on fuel, helping to improve the air around us. It is also less expensive and is often faster than driving a vehicle through traffic. Learn more about bicycle riding at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.
Take the buses and ferries – Portland has an extensive public transit system. You can even put a bike on the bus or ferry. Take the bus rather than driving. You can also go far. You can get as far as the surrounding malls. Learn more at METRO and Casco Bay Lines
Take the regional buses and train –If you’re traveling regionally, either south to Boston and beyond, or north up the coast of Maine and Canada, consider the bus or train or ferry. All are convenient, fast, and comfortable. Many trips even offer wi-fi and movies. Visit Amtrak Downeaster, Greyhound, or Concord Trailways or Nova Star Cruises for local connections to regional transportation.
Carpool – Portland is a central hub where many people work and live. Many people travel from other towns and cities to work here, or drive from Portland every day to work in places like Augusta, Lewiston, or Portsmouth, NH. In a place like Maine where many of the places we need to go are spread out, driving can be unavoidable, but carpooling is a great way to minimize emissions, gas consumed, save money and miles traveled, and improve fuel economy. Looking for a carpool? Visit GO Maine for helpful information.
Car Share – If you only use a vehicle occasionally, the UHaul Car Share program is a great alternatives to owning a vehicle. Portland has a number of locations were you can borrow a UHaul Car Share vehicle.
Please don’t idle – If you are not driving turn off your car when you’re parked and waiting for someone. The City of Portland has a no idling ordinance.
Park once – Try to park in a central location and complete multiple tasks in the same trip. This saves gas, money, and minimizes the amount of time you spend driving.
Slow down – Consider lowering your speed and think before you step on the gas. Not only is it safer for you and those around you, but your vehicle burns less fuel and stretches a tank of gas farther.
Recycling reduces the amount of waste that has to be processed and eventually go into landfills. Recycling in Portland is made easy with single-sort pickup. There is no need to separate different materials and recycling gets put out on the curb with your trash and gets picked up on the same day. Recycling reduces your waste and therefor the cost of blue city trash bags.
ecomaine has a Single Sort Guide which tells you what can and cannot be recycled:
It is important to be responsible when disposing of electronics, batteries, florescent light bulbs, and household hazards like paint, fuel, chemicals, etc. Find out more before throwing usable or hazardous materials out.
Home Energy Efficiency
You can take in your home to conserve energy and reduce consumption. Energy efficient lights and appliances can have a noticeable impact on your energy bill. Lower your electric bills by adding timers on lights and motion detectors on outdoor lighting systems. Many electronics and appliances draw power even when they are not running. Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use, or plug them into a power strip and turn it off during the day when you’re out of the house and at night when you go to bed.
It may be cost effective to make house improvements, like adding or redoing insulation, sealing drafty windows and doors, converting to natural gas, servicing your boiler, installing electronic thermostats. Efficiency Maine can help you get an energy audit and get money for making energy efficiency improvements to your home.
If you are a renter in Portland, did you know that Maine Law requires a landlord to provide an Energy Efficiency Disclosure for Rental Units in Maine Form to any person who requests this in person, and must post the form in a prominent location in a property that is being offered for rent or lease.
It is important to support locally owned businesses because it strengthens our economy, by keeping money in Portland and the region and creating the need for jobs here. Portland has a nationally renowned restaurant industry and a diverse range of retail options. Buying local goods reduces your impact on the environment by limiting the need to ship products from all over the world. Even buying a portion of your produce from local growers each week can make a difference, so consider joining community supported agriculture (CSA) or make a trip to the farmer’s market.
Consider 10 reasons why you should buy local.
The farmer’s market in Portland has been nationally recognized in numerous publications as one of the best in the country. The farmer’s market first started in 1768 (you can read about the farmer's market history. See the schedule and location of the Farmer's Market.
The farmer’s market is a convenient way to buy locally grown, sustainable food and goods. Fresh produce is unmatched in quality, and each season provides a diversity of options that grows every year. Supporting the vendors at the farmer’s market keeps money in the local economy, supports diversity in agriculture, minimizes the energy consumed to bring food to your table, and promotes local farmers and growers.
Composting, like recycling, will help you reduce the amount of trash you have by up to 95%, and the need for blue trash bags, which cost you money. Yard clippings and leaves, food scraps, plants from vegetable or flower gardens, amongst other organic matter, can all be composted. Compost provides healthy, balanced, soil and fertilizer for your garden or lawn. It is also better for the environment by reducing the amount of trash that has to be processed.
Compost bins are available at a discounted price through the City.
Using a rain barrel can help reduce stormwater run-off and keeps Casco Bay clean. The collected water can be used for flower and vegetable gardens as well as lawn care. Rain barrels are also available at a discounted price through the City.
Lawn mowers emit a surprising amount of air pollution. You can reduce your impact by mowing less often and leaving grass longer. Eliminating or reducing chemical fertilizers and treatments will prevent the run-off of these products into natural eco-systems and public water systems ultimately polluting Casco Bay.
Set a goal of only using reusable bags when you go shopping instead of needing plastic bags when you check-out. Consider the packaging of materials when you buy them. Any packaging you are unable to avoid, make sure it is at least recyclable.
Tear out that garbage disposal. While you might think that it is a better alternative than the trash, the food that goes into the water system slows down the sewage treatment process, using more energy and costs everyone in the city more money to process and dispose. Composting is a great alternative.
A large number of buildings in Portland still contain lead. Asbestos is also prevalent in our buildings stock. If you are a home owner or a landlord look into the materials that make up your buildings for the health of your family and tenants. When making improvements look into the products your using and chose those that are free of harmful chemicals. You can also implement better construction practices.
Spread the word and stay involved!The more people that participate and make these types of changes, the bigger the impact will be. Many of our actions affect the whole community – through the air we breathe and the water we drink – so it is important for each of us to consider how our daily activities could be more sustainable. Consider attending City sponsored meetings.
Economy – The second component of a Sustainable Portland is an economy that is built for long-term growth. As Portland looks toward the future we must recognize past success and failure and develop strategies that will enable the vibrant economy of today to continue to sustain Portland for generations to come. A diverse economy is more adaptable to changing trends, external forces, and to emerging needs and opportunities.
Community – As a City, we recognize the elements of our social system – our community – as the organizations, events and places that bring us together and give us a common identity as Portlanders. If we are to sustain our City, we must recognize and foster the essential social infrastructure that builds relationships, cultivates diversity, and reinforces a positive sense of place. In addition, a Sustainable Portland must address the basic needs of all members of the community – particularly those most at risk. We must address problems associated with mental illness, homelessness, drug addiction, education and vocational deficiencies, and racism. Sustainable communities must be compassionate and provide services to break patterns of social injustice, systemic poverty, and disempowerment of minorities.
Challenges – While Portland has made significant strides toward the goal of environmental sustainability, there remain significant challenges. From improved public transportation, to leadership in energy conservation, to increased air quality, the City of Portland must take a leading role in changing trends and promoting sustainable practices.
Challenges – Even as Portland’s economy grows and diversifies, we must be ever vigilant. As any region or business understands, without growth and investment, there is decline as other regions and economies move ahead.
Progress – Portland has a high quality of life, and has been nationally recognized for such. It is consistently recognized as a top place to raise kids, as a walkable and bike-able city, and as a city with a strong cultural core.
Challenges – Sustaining Portland’s high quality of life requires constant vigilance given the numerous challenges facing our community.
Environment – Climate change and energy cost issues have become the defining issues of our time, and increasingly, the citizens of Portland are demanding action. This will require leadership, and commitment, including the ongoing measurement and evaluation of progress.