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NerdWallet’s Top 4 Sustainable Thinking Nonprofits in Portland

Sept. 4, 2012
Personal Finance
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As a Portland native, I know first-hand that Oregonians are serious about sustainability. From fruit gleaning to eco-friendly buildings, the metropolitan area is a trailblazer in the green movement. Here are NerdWallet’s top nonprofits for pioneering various models of thinking towards a more sustainable Portland.

The ReBuilding Center: For Recycling Building Materials

This place is like Goodwill, but instead of clothes and accessories, the ReBuilding Center recycles household building materials. We all know home repairs are expensive, so visitors at the ReBuilding Center are able to obtain materials of all shapes and sizes at discount prices. Recycling these materials en route to a landfill also lessens our environmental impact – thus the Rebuilding Center offers a twofer of social wellbeing. Complementing the reuse warehouse is DeConstruction Services, a sustainable alternative to traditional demolition, and ReFind Furniture, offering bountiful amounts of eco-friendly home furniture and accessories. The Rebuilding Center donates used building materials for use in community projects and also offers free workshops on how to safely and creatively work with building materials for those who may not be able to afford it otherwise. Public workshop classes are also offered, but sign up immediately because they sell out fast! The ReBuilding Center embodies the common alliteration: reduce, reuse and recycle under the guidance of Our United Villages.


Earth Advantage Institute: For Initiating Green Building Strategy

The Earth Advantage Institute (EAI) works with the building and design industry to implement sustainable building practices. Its nonprofit mission is to create an immediate, practical, and cost-effective path to sustainability and carbon reduction in the built environment. The organization achieves its objectives through a range of innovative certification, education, and technical services programs. Residential energy efficiency programs nationwide use its Energy Performance Score (EPS) label to estimate savings and measure home performance. EAI is focused on market-driven solutions for the built environment through improvements in energy efficiency. A core focus is developing a crystal clear building‐science value proposition to consumers, real estate professionals, appraisers, inspectors, lenders, insurance firms, builders, associations, and other related stakeholders.

Building Green

Portland Sustainability Institute: For Coordinating Urban Sustainability

While city leaders strive to create jobs, save resources, and enhance livability on a large scale, they lack the coordination needed to provide feasible solutions. This is where the Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI) steps in. As their approach suggests, “[they] create smart practices that lead to green cities everywhere” through the creation of EcoDistricts—neighborhoods or districts where neighbors, community institutions and businesses join with city leaders and utility providers to meet ambitious sustainability goals and co-develop innovative district-scale projects. Residents commit to ambitious goals centered on sustainable living, guided investment and community action. They launched EcoDistricts in 2009, with an implementation framework, toolkits, and a local pilot program. Five Portland pilots began the project, and today they are implementing EcoDistricts nationwide with their North American pilot program in partnership with City of San Francisco and CH2MHill.


Portland Fruit Tree Project: For Sharing in the Harvest

Portland Fruit Tree Project (PFTP) gleans unwanted or underutilized fruit harvests in people’s backyards across Portland. The procedure is simple: landowners with registered fruit trees notify PFTP when prime harvest time is near, then volunteers gather at that location for a scheduled harvest party. PFTP provides all the necessary equipment, along with safety instruction and volunteer-made aprons. Fighting hunger and food waste motivates PFTP to provide fresh fruit to low-income families on two fronts – half of the bounty goes to local food banks and the other half goes to the volunteers (the majority of whom are low-income residents). Other branches such as stewardship programs help maintain registered trees (over 500 of them) during the winter season. Workshops provide volunteers with hands-on organic methods of tree care and food preservation tactics, and fruit and nut trees are also available to volunteers by a small donation. Community orchards are the most recent limbs of the project, where volunteers cultivate orchards on publicly accessible lands. PFTP provides the local community with thousands of pounds of otherwise wasted fruit. For this, NerdWallet commends the project for their fruitful vocation to feed those in need.


In this day and age, it is essential to focus on future generations. Local initiatives will foster a green movement as a paradigm shift in thinking takes place, prioritizing sustainability and its applicable practices. These organizations, only to name a few, are at the forefront of a revolution. We here at NerdWallet applaud them for making a profound impact in the local community and look forward to the progress made in the green movement.