Water — Food — Energy — necessary ingredients for a great city. And Oregon State University is working throughout Portland to make a positive difference in all three. Through research and partnerships with people and organizations, we are improving water quality, encouraging locally sourced food and taking sustainable living from idea to reality. Our faculty, students and alumni apply innovation and leadership to improve the quality of life in Portland. Not just in the future, but right now. That’s what it means to be Powered by Orange.
Powered by Orange means protecting water quality
- In Portland, few natural resources are as important as the Willamette River. Years of industrial use have taken their toll, and clean up remains an ongoing process. Oregon State scientists Kim Anderson and David Williams are helping to restore the river by determining where pollution levels have dropped, where they haven’t and where contamination continues to threaten human and aquatic health.
- Water quality in Portland reflects more than the city itself. Throughout the Willamette’s 11,000-square-mile watershed, climate patterns, roadways, land uses and other human activities influence the water we depend on. OSU scientists and volunteers have created an up-to-date full-color map that shows how these and other factors have affected the river over time. The idea is to inform the public about water issues and what people can do to improve water quality — everything from maintaining streamside vegetation to simply fixing water leaks at home.
- OSU Extension is teaching students, community leaders and volunteers how we influence water quality, both individually and as a society. Sam Chan and the Watershed Education Team work with Portland metro area schools, community groups and agencies. Not only do these programs explain the science of water quality, they show how low-impact development, streamside gardening, invasive species prevention and other sustainable practices can make us all better stewards of our water resources.
Powered by Orange means having an appetite for local food
- For many Portlanders, quality of life translates directly into the foods we eat. Portland is known for being a foodies’ paradise, with an abundance of farmers’ markets and restaurants featuring locally grown items on their menus. Oregon State agricultural economist Larry Lev is strengthening the local connection from producer to plate. Working with EcoTrust, Chefs Collaborative Portland and the local Farmer-Chef connection chapter, he helps to build relationships between local growers and chefs.
- Powered by Orange also means innovation and economic development, both of which are on the menu at the Food Innovation Center, a partnership between Oregon State and the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The center helps everyone from large-scale producers to entrepreneurs develop and test new food items. Scientists at the center also consult on production methods, packaging and marketing strategies. And you can see the results of their work at the grocery store, with products such as veggie burgers from Chez Gourmet by Marie and coconut yogurt from Gata Foods. Both companies are based in the Portland area.
- Food is also a great way for kids to see science in action. From sprouting beets to wiggling worms, students at Lane Middle School are learning biology by growing their own garden. Weston Miller and Beret Halverson from OSU Extension have teamed up with Portland State University to create a 12-acre Learning Gardens Laboratory near the school. And the garden has another practical use: Student-grown greens, tomatoes and cucumbers show up on the school cafeteria trays.
Powered by Orange means putting energy in sustainability.
In partnership with organizations across the city, Oregon State University researchers are exploring renewable energy sources. From building design to solar cell manufacturing, initiatives aim for energy efficiency and environmental benefit.
- Despite Oregon’s reputation for rain, solar cell manufacturers are coming to the state for its favorable business climate, high-tech workforce and research innovations. By converting discoveries in transparent electronics, thin film photovoltaics and nanotechnology into commercial products, Oregon State is helping to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of solar cells. Making solar a more cost-effective energy source means they can be integrated into new and existing buildings, from roofs to windows.
- Sustainability has been part of Portland’s character for decades. Just look at plans for the new Oregon Sustainability Center. More than a dozen Oregon State faculty, including Gail Achterman of the Institute for Natural Resources and engineer Ken Williamson, are working on the project to build a 200,000+ square-foot mixed-use high rise that will produce 100 percent of its energy on site, integrate water reuse and have no carbon footprint. Once completed, the center will serve as a hub for education, research and entrepreneurship, strengthening Portland’s emerging green economy and creating high-quality jobs.
- Oregon State students are also applying their environmental research in Portland. One example is Erin Schroll, who as a graduate student, studied urban applications for green roofs. On the Portland Building downtown, Schroll and other students monitored temperatures, water flows and plant survival in combination with irrigation and weeds. They demonstrated that a green roof of carefully selected plants can reduce storm water runoff, reduce rooftop temperature changes and even provide new habitat.