Green Infrastructure: Urban Sustainability Accelerator program helps others build on Portland’s success



Cities’ Green Accelerator

A project of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University. the Urban Sustainability Accelerator (USA) helps cities implement sustainability projects – that is, to move their proposals from a concept, a plan, a policy or action item, to reality.

Cities selected for this program are able to take advantage of a full year of personalized advice and consulting provided by individuals with decades of sustainability expertise.

The 2013-2014 inaugural cohort of the Urban Sustainability Accelerator is made up of teams from El Paso, Texas; Elk Grove, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Portland, Maine; Rancho Cordova, California; Sacramento County, California; Wichita, Kansas and Waco, Texas.

Program Description

The Urban Sustainability Accelerator provides a year-long program of expert advice and support for participating cities in implementing an important sustainability project or program.

Each city creates an implementation team with leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors. The implementation teams form a cohort group for mutual learning and support during the year. The year begins and ends with the convening of the city implementation teams during the summer in Portland, Oregon.

The Urban Sustainability Accelerator was created to help urban areas implement their sustainability projects. The program focus is on implementation of adopted sustainability policies, plans, and goals. The assistance provided is of every type: technical, strategic, administrative, legal and political.

Move from a Concept, a Plan, a Policy or Action item, to Reality

For the past year, nine cities have been taking a page from Portland’s sustainability efforts and using the talents of 70 local experts to implement their own hometown projects.

They’re catalyzing development in their downtown areas, boosting transit-oriented development, managing their rainwater and stormwater, redeveloping historic sites and taking other actions Portland has helped set the standard for.

“The ‘sustainable’ term may or may not be used in some places, but the elements are pervasive,” says  Robert Liberty, Director of the Urban Sustainability Accelerator.

PSU_Robert Liberty_120p“The participating cities are not the usual suspects, like San Francisco, New York or Boston. They are small to mid-sized cities that may have similarities to Portland in some cases, and in others, could not be more different.”

“A lot of these are very unglamorous cities, which makes it kind of fun,” Liberty says. “The point is not to try to make the other cities copy any of Portland’s practices. I say, ‘Let me help you make Waco more like Waco,’ ” Liberty says.

To Learn More:

To read a context story posted by the Portland Tribune newspaper, click on Cities’s Green Accelerator.

To visit the program Urban Sustainability Accelerator homepage, click on 

The Urban Sustainability Accelerator has a number of elements that in combination make it different from other such assistance programs. For specifics, click here.