Is Portland better than Seattle?

Oct 1, 2010, 2:51 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Anything Seattle does, Portland does better? When judged on the basis of sustainability – maintaining the natural world and resources for our existence – our friends to the south might have the edge.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Portland Mayor Sam Adams meet tonight to discuss and compare progress both cities have made over the years on environmental issues. The sponsoring organization,, calls both cities “trendsetting icons of climate-neutral growth.”

Here are some comparisons:

Portland started a “solarize” project last year with home owners who only have to pay 10 to 20 percent of the total installation costs. They hoped to start with 20 homes, but ended up with 800. To date there are more than 1,700 homeowners signed up.

Portland has 80 Energy Star-rated buildings. Seattle has 69.

Earlier this week we had a report about green rooftops in Seattle, which is a growing trend here – literally. But again, Portland is ahead of us. They have 351 green roofs. Stretched out, that would cover 26 acres. Seattle’s 62 green roofs would fill nine acres of land. Seattle is working to restore 2,500 acres of forested parkland by 2025, in partnership with the Cascade Land Conservancy.

A few months ago the Department of Energy gave Seattle a $20 million grant to invest in energy efficiency improvements and job creation. Portland has an agency working to create 10,000 stable environmental jobs over 10 years.

Portland is working on a $1.5 million dollar project for an almost five mile north-south corridor for bicyclists. Seattle has about 45 miles of shared use paths, 120 miles of on-street, striped bike lanes and about 120 miles of signed bike routes.

The Rose City is committed to cutting emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Seattle has a goal of having the entire city be carbon-neutral by 2030.

These are just a few comparisions about Seattle and Portland, based on sustainability information both cities have on their websites. A few acts certainly don’t define the character and feel of a city. I haven’t spent much time in Portland, but if you have, share your thoughts about how the two cities stack up. In a battle of Seattle vs. Portland, which city wins for you?



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Is Portland better than Seattle?