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City of Portland Commits to Clean Air Construction Standard

Press Release
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Eileen Park, (503) 823-6541

City of Portland Commits to Clean Air Construction Standard

Portland, OR -- Today, the City of Portland committed to reducing diesel emissions on public sector construction sites. Multnomah County is also expected to adopt the Standard later this month by executive order.

The Portland City Council voted unanimously to adopt an amendment to the City’s Sustainable Procurement Policy, which would phase-in requirements for contractors working on City construction projects, with contract values over $1 million, to meet engine standards that will reduce emissions of diesel particulate matter.

“I’m very pleased the City of Portland and Multnomah County are working together to provide leadership on a regional approach,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “A regional commitment will help ensure that the impacts of this go far beyond City and County projects and it provides the necessary certainty for our contracting community. This approach will also help to alleviate some of the impact to people of color and low-income populations, who experience the effects of diesel pollution at a disproportionate rate.”

Chair Kafoury is scheduled to pass an executive order requiring the same Clean Air Construction Standard for all County construction projects later in December. “This is a market-based approach,'' Chair Deborah Kafoury said. "We're using the spending power of public construction projects to move the market toward clean equipment. And we're excited because it can be expanded beyond the City and County toward a regional solution.”

The Standard requires equipment used on City and County construction projects to dramatically reduce particulate matter emissions from older diesel engines. The requirements will apply to non-road diesel equipment with equal to or greater than 25 horsepower, and on-road dump and cement trucks. It will include a phase-in period to allow contractors the time and flexibility to plan for the new standard. The City and County are also pursuing funding options to help disadvantaged, minority, women-owned and emerging small businesses upgrade their equipment to comply with the standard.

Portland and Multnomah County residents have the highest exposure to air toxics in the state and are well above national averages for cancer risk and respiratory hazards from air toxics. Diesel particulate matter from older engines is among the most prevalent and harmful airborne toxins in the region. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Portland Metro area registers diesel particulate matter (PM) levels above the ambient benchmark concentration set by the state.

The City and County worked with a coalition of local jurisdictions to develop this Standard with the intent that as multiple agencies adopt the Standard, it will foster a growing market for clean air construction equipment and improve air quality at a regional level. The coalition includes Washington and Clackamas Counties, the Port of Portland, Metro and the Department of Environmental Quality.