South Waterfront Greenway

The South Waterfront Greenway Development Plan, accepted by City Council in 2004, provided a vision and concept plan for the entire South Waterfront Greenway. The Greenway, which stretches from the Marquam Bridge south to the River Forum Building, will strive to balance the needs of the public and the health of the Willamette River.

Greenway construction began in 2009, and has evolved into a two-phase project.

Phase I:


Phase 1 heavy construction is nearly complete. All that remains is installation of the safety railings at the top of the retaining walls, some planting and site clean-up, and installation of the final site fencing.


Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) has emphasized over the past year that the fencing will need to stay up until the lawns have grown in enough to withstand typical park foot traffic and maintenance activities. This is expected to be late next spring (approximately June 2014) based on normal growing conditions. In the meantime, PP&R received a request from the Nature and Greenspaces Committee to try to find a way to configure the fencing so that folks can get to the river access ramp.

Phase II:
The total cost of the Greenway’s Phase 2 is estimated at $4.7 million. The contractor, JW Fowler Company, expects to begin preliminary tasks immediately, with heavy construction getting underway in early April, 2014. Work is expected to be complete by November 2014.

Phase 1 of the project, in partnership with TriMet, restored the riverbank to a more natural vegetation condition and installed a shallow water refuge important for juvenile salmon. TriMet joined the project because the shallow water habitat mitigates for construction impacts to the river associated with their new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge.

Because the entire site is composed of landfill from former industrial activities, the Phase 1 earthwork and construction was conducted under the close observation of and collaboration with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Division of State Lands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Marine Fisheries Services. The total cost of Phase 1 is estimated at $10,798,100.

The project is funded by a variety of sources: $9.26 million of Parks System Development Charges, $4 million of Tax Increment Funding from the North Macadam Urban Renewal Area, $1.42 million from TriMet, $750,000 in Environmental Remediation funding from the City’s Bureau of Environmental Services, and $68,000 in miscellaneous PPR funding.

For updates on the project, please check out PP&R South Waterfront Greenway page.


Bioswales & Ecoroofs

You may have noticed water running through a series of landscaped areas in the South Waterfront. These are known as bioswales. By channeling storm water through gravel and vegetation, bioswales cleanse rainwater by removing particles and contaminants before they soak into the ground or flow into the Willamette River. Ecoroofs on top of the buildings in South Waterfront function in a similar way. Prior to the development of the South Waterfront District, none of the area’s storm water was treated; upon completion of construction, 90% of storm water will be filtered.

Wikipedia Bioswale Entry


Solar Panels & Trombe Wall

One overarching goal of South Waterfront development is to create buildings that produce more energy than they consume. If you visit the OHSU Center for Health & Healing, you will see a series of exterior sunshades on the south side of the building. These shades also function as solar panels, generating approximately 60,000 Wh of electricity each year. Located on the 15th and 16th floors of the building, the innovative and energy-saving solar trombe wall preheats the building’s hot water. The 6,000 square foot trombe wall and solar panels save 36 tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere each year. That’s the equivalent of 407 cars every year.

Trombe Wall Wikipedia Entry


Environmental Certification (LEED)

It’s not hard to tell who’s helping save the planet and who isn’t. According to the US Green Building Council, South Waterfront is doing one of the best jobs in the country. Portland’s newest neighborhood is home to the first LEED Platinum medical building, and has the most LEED residential towers of any neighborhood in the nation. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is the national standard for environmental building practices designated by the US Green Building Council.

Green Building Council
EPA Green Building


Sustainable Materials

Sustainable building materials are used throughout the South Waterfront neighborhood. Wool carpets are used instead of synthetics, sustainably-harvested woods (Forest Stewardship Council-certified) are used for floors, and rapidly renewable materials (10-year or less re-growth cycle) like agrifiber and wheatstalk are used for flooring and cabinetry. These sustainable building practices are good for both the environment and the local economy.

Yolo Colorhouse



The reduction in energy and water consumption is staggering when you compare South Waterfront's LEED-certified buildings to conventionally-designed structures. Water-saving strategies include the strict use of drought-resistant trees and plants and the installation of dual-flush toilets and efficient showerheads.

High performance glass in all of the buildings minimizes heat transfer and reduces heating and cooling costs. Light sensors illuminate common areas only when they are in use. These and additional strategies are anticipated to deliver a 30% savings in both potable water and energy consumption over the national EPA baseline.



The South Waterfront EcoDistrict, formed in 2010, aims to enhance sustainable initiatives at a neighborhood-level in the South Waterfront. Already a 'green' neighborhood, the South Waterfront has used the EcoDistrict platform, coordinated through POSI, as a roadmap for community building on a number of sustainable programs. To date, the EcoDistrict Steering Committee has brought neighborhood stakeholders together to understand and prioritize which areas of sustainability (buildings, infrastructure, and/or community building) to focus attention on in the coming years.

The South Waterfront EcoDistrict's vision statement reads:

The South Waterfront EcoDistrict brings together neighbors, businesses, and property owners to create a great place to live and work. Innovative built and natural infrastructure, green buildings, and a community of people strengthen the performance of this model sustainable neighborhood.

For more information on the EcoDistrict, please contact Pete Collins, Director of Community Relations, at or 503-972-2830.