Oregon’s green development industry includes architects, developers, engineers, planners, product developers, non-profits, government agencies, higher education, community colleges and service providers working to design and build environmentally sustainable communities here in Oregon and  around the world.

Industry Overview

Oregon is developing a reputation as a national leader in sustainable design, planning, and construction. Green building industries are concerned with increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water, and materials. Green building also uses environmentally responsible materials and processes to ensure that human health is protected along with the environment, throughout the building life-cycle (which includes siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction). A group of cluster representatives has been meeting since early 2007 to accelerate the growth of green building and development in Oregon and to strengthen Oregon’s competitiveness in the global economy. The Oregon Business Development Department, the Portland Development Commission, and the City of Portland have all provided organizational and institutional help along the way.

Green Building and Development by the Numbers


Green Building and Development

Economic  Impact

Average Wage: $42,497 (2010)
Average Wage Growth: 7.9% (2009-2010)
Direct Employment: 2,021 (2010)

Source: BLS, QCEW 

 Cluster Strengths

  • Oregon has a sustainability ethos and strong appreciation for a healthy and environmentally-conscious lifestyle.
  • The State’s collaborative culture means that connections between industry, government, and community organizations work together to promote the growth of the cluster.
  • Being a region of early adopters with strong customer support, Portland serves as a living laboratory for green development, which in turn harnesses skill development, experience, and global competitiveness within the industry.
  • Available natural resources like water, wind, waves, and biomass support building with renewable resources.
  • State political leadership and government support green building and development at the local and statewide levels.
  • Lower costs for professional services, electricity, and housing keep Oregon competitive relative to neighboring green building regions like the Bay Area and Washington.

Cluster Challenges

  • Energy analysts and modelers often must be recruited from out of state, as Oregon’s education and workforce programs do not provide sufficient talent prepared to work in these jobs.
  • Oregon has smaller scale venture capital and angel investing in green building than in other regions.
  • A good deal of time and money are required to get regulatory approval of new green building materials and processes, which can hinder the cluster’s expansion.
  • Energy costs are relatively inexpensive, hampering the business case for building owners to make energy efficient investments.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Oregon ranked #1 in the nation in LEED certified green building projects per capita in 2010.
  • The 2011 Clean Edge report confirms Portland and Oregon’s leadership in the green economy. Oregon ranks second in the nation in clean energy leadership and enjoys a number of key assets that set it apart in the clean-tech sector.  Portland ranks #3 in the Clean Edge metro report.
  • Governor Kitzhaber traveled to China on a 10-day trade mission to promote Oregon industries, including green technology. Over 60 people attended a successful Green Building Seminar in Shanghai.
  • The Portland + Oregon Sustainability Institute (PoSI) initiated the city’s EcoDistricts Initiative in five neighborhoods, launched the EcoDistrict Institute nationally, and has hosted three annual EcoDistrict forums with over 1,300 attendees.
  • We Build Green Cities and First Stop Portland were launched. First Stop Portland provides planning and logistical support for international visiting delegations interested in learning about Portland’s sustainable policies and practices.
  • The City of Portland has been selected to participate in the State Department’s Eco-Partnership Program. Portland’s partner is the City of Kunming, China.

Key Initiatives

  • Expand the We Build Green Cities initiative to export the region’s expertise in green building and development across the U.S. and the globe.
  • Develop and promote a partnered mechanism (policy, funding, etc.) that facilitates energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings.
  • Support the Portland Sustainability Institute and City of Portland’s EcoDistricts Initiative to create neighborhoods with a commitment to accelerate neighborhood-scale sustainability.
  • Adopt a state policy platform, similar to the 2030 Challenge, which will continue to push the envelope for green building and will maintain the state’s position as a leader in this sector.
  • Require energy performance certificates, similar to mpg ratings for vehicles, as part of the sale of homes and buildings so that prospective owners understand the relative energy performance of properties.

Cluster Contact

David Kenney
Executive Director
Oregon BEST
Amy Nagy
Portland Development Commission
Economic Development Strategy: Green Development

Sunun Setboonsarng
Global Trade Specialist
Business Oregon