Lloyd EcoDistrict leading the way in pursuing new certification

Lloyd District Fall Skyline

By Joshua Baker

This story was originally featured in the Portland Business Journal.

Aug 1, 2017, 6:46am PDT Updated Aug 1, 2017, 8:43am PDT

The Lloyd District, which emerged as the highest profile “EcoDistrict” in a Portland initiative begun in 2009, is now among the first communities nationally to take on a certification standard for the urban sustainability movement.

EcoDistricts Certified said Tuesday that 11 projects in nine U.S. and one Canadian city have committed to what the organization called a “cutting-edge, holistic, and rigorous framework for organizing and achieving important public policy, sustainability, and investment goals.”

EcoDistricts emerged from former Mayor Sam Adams’ Portland Sustainability Institute, which did pilot projects in five city neighborhoods between 2009 and 2012. The Lloyd District project had a head start with a “Green District” concept developed by Oregon Solutions, and has stood apart from the others in becoming a lasting force.

Sarah Heinicke, executive director of the Lloyd EcoDistrict, said that in some ways the certification, which is expected to take about a year to complete, might not change things very much. “We’ve been doing the work for six years,” she said.

But certification, she added, will give the group “a more formal platform” to engage businesses and others in the community and should “be helpful in applying rigor and form to the work we’ve been doing.”

One of the Lloyd group’s major pursuits is energy efficiency: It’s committed to maintaining energy use at or below 2010 levels through 2035, even as the district grows.

In a news release, EcoDistricts outlined the tenets of the certification program:

“All EcoDistricts Certified projects 1) commit to equity, resilience and climate protection at the heart of every decision; 2) form collaborative governance that reflects community stakeholders; 3) create an implementation roadmap to guide projects and programs; and 4) track and measure impact over time. Each step is submitted to third-party verifiers to ensure transparency and accountability.”

Portland-based EcoDistricts envisions the new certification program helping guide many booming cities in a more sustainable direction.

“We’re spending billions of dollars in cities today and we need to get it right,” Rob Bennett, EcoDistricts’ CEO, said in a statement. “This new standard is where an upfront investment in following a rigorous development framework yields exponential returns: Leaders get organized, projects happen faster, opportunities grow, people stay where they live, and others move there.”

Pete Danko covers energy, cannabis and wine.