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The Urban Sustainability Accelerator
The Urban Sustainability Accelerator

The Urban Sustainability Accelerator (USA) assists cities in implementing their sustainability projects, to move their proposals from a concept, a plan, or action item, to reality.  The focus is on implementation of already adopted sustainability policies, plans, and goals; and priority is given to helping small and mid-sized urban areas.

The Urban Sustainability Accelerator provides a year-long program of expert advice and support for participating urban areas.  Each urban area creates an implementation team with leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Participating governments may be cities, counties, metropolitan planning organizations, transit agencies or special districts. The implementation teams form a cohort group for mutual learning and support during the year. The year begins and ends with the convening of the city implementation teams during the summer in Portland, Oregon.

Cities selected for this program can take advantage of a full year of personalized advice and consulting provided by individuals with decades of sustainability expertise.  Assistance is of every type, from technical to strategic, from administrative to legal and political.  USA Expert Advisers come from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, and are based primarily although not exclusively in Portland, Oregon, internationally recognized for its more than four decades of experimentation and success in the implementation of various urban sustainability efforts. 

Urban "sustainability projects" include a wide array of efforts that reduce materials consumption and waste, lessen or avoid environmental damage, restore and protect natural systems, and enhance human health and well being.  They naturally and logically incorporate goals of economic development as well as social justice.  Example projects include:

  • Creating active transportation networks.
  • Creating multi-modal and mixed use corridors.
  • Rail transit development and transit-facilitated development.
  • Integration of land use and transportation planning at the project and system level in order to promote sustainable communities and reduce climate-changing pollution.
  • Building green infrastructure and constructing green buildings, including LEED certified low-income housing
  • Creating "ecodistricts" with features such as district heating (and cooling) and green storm water infrastructure.
  • Urban redevelopment, residential and commercial infill and revitalization.
  • Waste reduction (recycling, food composting, public, private, formal and informal materials re-use programs, latex paint recycling).
  • Reduction or elimination of combined sewer overflows (separating storm water and sanitary sewer systems through large-scale and small scale investments and incentives).
  • Regional natural areas protection.
  • Improving consistency between land use goals and individual land use decisions meant to implement those goals.
  • Techniques for curbing urban sprawl, including urban growth boundaries and rural conservation zoning and how to address associated fairness issues.

The program is made possible by the generous support of the Summit Foundation, PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions, and the Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning, where the program is housed. To learn more about the Urban Sustainability Accelerator, contact Director Robert Liberty at rliberty@pdx.edu (503) 725-4042, or Program Administrator Judy Walton at judywalton@pdx.edu (503) 725-4024.