On Location

A Planner’s Look at Portland

written by | Posted on September 1st, 2011

Pearl District

Pearl District


Sustainability in Portland is a way of life with a small town vibe belying its cosmopolitan amenities, complemented with a youthful, earthy vigor common in the Pacific Northwest. There are more LEED buildings per capita than any other U.S. city. You can walk the entire compact downtown core bordered by bike trails up and down leafy Tom McCall Waterfront Park skirting the placid Willamette River. And the most common modes of transportation are the Max Light Rail system, bicycles, riverboats and hybrids.

I was here to attend the annual GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference in February for an exciting mix of collaborative networking, education, continuous online/offline communication and gourmet local food. Upon arrival at the airport, I simply hopped aboard the clean, comfy and convenient Max for the 35-minute ride that stops at most of the major hotels, convention center and Rose Garden Arena. Total cost: $2.35.

Across the Willamette River from downtown, the 477-room Doubletree Hotel Portland was the association’s Conference HQ this year. The choice was due to the property winning both the first Green Seal Certification in Oregon and the IMEX Green Supplier Gold Award 2011. And the dark browns and creamsicle colors in the lobby with modern retro sofas and chairs added a fun atmosphere complementing the 1950s architecture.

Morning, noon and night, guests were always sitting around reading, chatting, sipping coffee and tea with iPods, iPads and laptops in the free internet zone. Adding to the social buzz, the new Gather restaurant off the lobby served susty small plates and complete entrees. Partnering with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen, exec chef Steven Ward is one of many Portland chefs who “FLOSS” at every meal, meaning the use of Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sustainable ingredients, always.

Part of the 38,000 sf of meeting space divisible into 18 rooms, the 17,000-sf exhibit hall is super convenient with pre-function space outside each room. The staff is dedicated and friendly, guided by one of our sustainable industry gurus, Steve Faulstick, who makes planning sustainable meetings at the Doubletree both a pleasure and a breeze.

Including sustainable practices throughout a conference is where Doubletree really shines. ENERGY STAR certified, it is rigorously committed to composting and waste diversion to lead the hospitality industry in being sustainable and responsible. The employees and guests, myself included, and the community benefit from this stellar example of corporate responsibility.

Guestrooms are simply decorated in earth tones. Some of the newly renovated (2010) rooms have spectacular views of the city and beyond, including Mt. Hood’s snowcapped peak and the majestic evergreen landscape beyond the city.

Also, the Doubletree is the largest hotel within walking distance to the convention center. Very convenient!

During one afternoon break, I had the pleasure of greeting the B-Line bicycle cart driver as he delivered fresh coffee beans from Portland Roasting Coffee, before picking up food donations to be shared with less fortunate Portlanders. Feeding people and saving fuel is part of B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery’s mission to make communities more livable. Check ’em out.