The Lloyd EcoDistrict in Portland, OR was formed in 2009 with a goal of becoming one of North America’s most sustainable living-and-working districts. In the seven years since its formation, the EcoDistrict is well on its way to becoming a case study in effective district-scale regeneration, thanks in large part to the emphasis project leaders have put on strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement.
The Lloyd EcoDistrict is located just east of Portland’s central business district on the east side of the Willamette River. Businesses within this primarily commercial district, including the Oregon Convention Center and the Moda Center arena, employ more than 16,000 people, most of whom live outside the district. The majority of people travel to the district for shopping, employment, conferences, sporting and entertainment events. The area is well served by public transit, including MAX light rail, bus and the Portland Streetcar.
The EcoDistrict was selected as an original Portland EcoDistrict Pilot project in 2011, when business and government leaders came together to develop the EcoDistrict’s Roadmap. Among the key action areas identified in the Roadmap were energy and transportation. Thanks to an emphasis on stakeholder engagement and innovative program design, the district has achieved measurable outcomes in both of these areas in just four years.
Energy: Oregon Commercial LED Retrofit Program
The Oregon Commercial LED Retrofit Program is a novel project in which the Lloyd EcoDistrict serves as an intermediary, buying a wide variety of LED replacement bulbs in bulk at a deep discount to stakeholders. This incentivizes district buildings to upgrade to LED, saving energy and money while returning a modest income stream to Lloyd to reinvest in future projects.
The EcoDistrict’s LED program was among the first projects launched within the scope of the Energy Action Plan, established in 2014 to achieve measurable progress toward the district’s aggressive energy saving goals.
The 2011 EcoDistrict Roadmap established energy efficiency baseline performance metrics. Next, Lloyd EcoDistrict leaders were charged with keeping energy usage at current levels despite an anticipated 20 million square feet increase of district infrastructure in the following two decades.
District leaders found that a large amount of energy could be saved through LED retrofits of commercial buildings. That’s where Lloyd EcoDistrict’s leaders turned to the stakeholder engagement process. They created a Lloyd EcoDistrict Energy Efficiency working group of community members and stakeholders to author and steward the resulting Energy Action Plan. Together, the group developed a number of energy efficiency strategies, including the LED retrofit program.
While the group purchasing part of the LED program incentivizes building owners to improve energy efficiency, the EcoDistrict also wanted to track and measure performance of the program over time. Working with partner Green Building Services, Lloyd created the Energy Start Portfolio Manager, which helps building owners monitor and report on Energy usage. In 2015, after just one year of the energy portfolio program, the portfolio showed more than 13% energy usage reductions and almost $1 million in savings. That’s equivalent to 22.5 million kilowatt hours, enough to power 2,062 homes for a year, and approximately 15,500 metric tons of greenhouse gases, or emissions from 3,272 vehicles driven for one year.
With the retrofit incentivized and many buildings now tracking results, Lloyd leaders reached out to the Building Owners and Managers Association Oregon (BOMA) to grow the LED program statewide, building the energy action plan portfolio and increasing the stream of revenue into the Lloyd EcoDistrict.
Equally important to the energy and carbon footprint reductions, the Lloyd team also integrated equity into LED program outcomes. A portion of the fee each LED project generates will go to Central City Concern, a nonprofit that provides affordable housing and recovery services for people suffering from homelessness, poverty and addiction.
Today, the LED program has 12 lighting retrofit projects lined up for 2016 and modest revenue goals. As the BOMA partnership kicks off, more businesses will be added to the energy portfolio, creating more energy and cost savings, as well as revenue that will go right back into Lloyd and the surrounding area.
Transportation: GenZe E-Bike Program
The Lloyd EcoDistrict sits at the center of a well-established transportation infrastructure, including access to light rail, a streetcar, and bus and bike infrastructure. While this wealth of public transit brings more than 40% of Lloyd’s visitors to the area each year, district leaders were interested in expanding alternative transportation options for people who live and work in the area.
In 2015, Lloyd partnered with GenZe, a maker of electric bicycles to market their products throughout the district. Using a district-wide e-bike challenge with the support of 12 area businesses, the Lloyd partners engaged locals and area employees to test e-bikes by signing up for a local trip. To encourage participation, all participants were entered to win an e-bike.
The campaign had several goals: incentivize people that work and live in the Lloyd EcoDistrict to use alternative forms of transportation; cut down on car trips; build the business case for permanent e-bikes in Lloyd; educate the public about the Lloyd EcoDistrict as a nonprofit working on district-scale issues in the area; and build trust and partnerships among the multiple businesses that exist in the Lloyd EcoDistrict.
After the e-bike competition, Lloyd leaders went to work strategizing a permanent e-bike rollout plan. Thanks to the partnerships created through the initial competition, five local businesses were selected to pilot a number of e-bikes available for employee use. That number will jump to 25 businesses after the first phase of implementation is complete in 2016, and will expand to residential use after that. The district is also hoping to partner with the City and local transportation nonprofits to create bike-charging infrastructure in the area.
Lessons Learned on Stakeholder Engagement
Since its formation, the Lloyd EcoDistrict has emphasized the value that strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement can add to the district regeneration process. Lloyd EcoDistrict Executive Director Sarah Heinicke will be the first to say that the success of district programs is dependent on the strength of partnerships. Understanding their partners’ points of view and tailoring their approach to each stakeholder’s unique value proposition allowed the Lloyd EcoDistrict to achieve measurable progress in multiple programs. It also kept them to take a holistic view of outcomes, ensuring people, planet, and profit were prioritized.
In the end, it’s not always about stepping up and driving. Sometimes, letting partners take the wheel will get you to your goals faster.