Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.55
Liaison Amanda Wolf
Submission Date Feb. 11, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

Portland State University
OP-23: Stormwater Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Noelle Studer-Spevak
Sustainability Coordinator
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a policy, plan, and/or strategies to reduce stormwater runoff from new development projects? :

Does the institution have a policy, plan, and/or strategies to reduce stormwater runoff from ongoing campus operations? :

A brief description of the institution's stormwater management initiatives:

Stormwater management policy from 2005

Sustainable stormwater management principles are adopted as Portland State University’s (PSU) preferred approach for the management of stormwater. These principles have and will be demonstrated in the planning and retrofitting of current and future campus development with the intent of managing all stormwater on site within a 50-100 year time period.

Includes such initiatives as:
Eco-roofs, rainwater harvesting, bioswales, better irrigation practices, and more.

•Decrease impervious surfaces and/or increase stormwater surfaces which allow for water reuse on the Portland State University campus, especially through methods which continue to allow urban density.
•Improve water quality, decrease water runoff peak rate, increase and improve natural habitat systems.
•Decrease resource usage including pesticides, fertilizers and irrigation water.
•Implement designs which allow for stormwater to be reused on-site.
•Decrease sediment losses through sustainable erosion control.
•Implement consistent monitoring and auditing of systems.
•Implement all levels of the Stormwater Management Plan and Integrated Pest Management Plan.
•Become a leader in the research, development and successful implementation of sustainable stormwater
management in the Pacific Northwest.

The website URL where information about the institution's stormwater management initiatives, plan or policy is available:
Does the institution have a living or vegetated roof?:

A brief description of the institution's living or vegetated roof:


Ecoroofs are an aesthetically pleasing way to beef up the lifespan of a roof, reduce building stormwater runoff, and reduce energy consumption by mitigating rooftop heat loss in cold weather and maintaining cooler indoor temperatures during the warmer months. Portland State University is home to five ecoroofs, running the gamut from big to small, manicured to wild. The Broadway Housing Building sports an 18,000 sq. ft. ecoroof (the largest in Portland!), the Native American Student Center features a native plants rooftop garden, and three small ecoroofs are located between Smith Center and Neuberger Hall atop a community gathering space, cob oven, and informational kiosk, respectively. PSU was awarded a 2005 BEST Award for the Broadway Housing Building's ecoroof.

Does the institution have porous paving?:

A brief description of the institution's porous paving:

A small area of grasscrete - pavers with grass - is located near the Research Greenhouse. http://www.grasscrete.com/docs/paving/index.html

Recently, a small parking lot made with grasscrete was installed at the President's (of PSU) house by Facilities. Several PSU-related events are held at the President's resident, so some upgrades have been funded by the university.

Does the institution have retention ponds?:

A brief description of the institution's retention ponds:

Does the institution have stone swales?:

A brief description of the institution's stone swales:

Stephen Epler Hall has stone swales that infiltrate water and lead to a tank that collects rain water for flushing toilets.

Does the institution have vegetated swales?:

A brief description of the institution's vegetated swales:

4th, 6th, and 12th Ave Bioswales
Montgomery Green Street planters between Smith Memorial Student Union and Cramer Hall.

In Summer 2005, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services installed a series of four bioswales a half block north of Epler Hall on SW 12th Street. Part of BES's Green Streets Program, the 12th Street Bioswales represent an exciting trend in stormwater management. As rainwater hits the paved roads and sidewalks on SW 12th - collecting oil, sediments, exhaust, dirt, chemicals, etc - it is directed to gutters which channel the dirty water into the bioswales. Each swale is essentially an enclosed planter box containing soil and wetland plants. Water that enters a swale is absorbed into the soil and taken up by the plants. This serves two primary functions; first, it limits the rate at which water enters Portland's Combined Sewer system, effectively reducing the risk of flooding that often plagues the system. The second benefit of this type of bioswale system is water purification. When one swale begins to fill and overflow, excess water leaves the swale and is channeled into the next swale, and so on until the fourth swale fills (this generally occurs only during heavy sustained rainfall). Throughout this process the water is filtered by both the soil and plants, which absorb many of the pollutants carried in the water. When water leaves the fourth swale it goes directly into a storm drain, cleaner than before! The 12th Street Green Street was awarded a 2006 Professional Award of Honor by the American Society of Landscape Architects. The 12th street installation is currently being studied for efficacy in collecting and processing hydrocarbons and other contaminants.
These vegetated flow-through planters have been replicated elsewhere on campus as well.

Does the institution employ any other technologies or strategies for stormwater management?:

A brief description of other technologies or strategies for stormwater management employed:

From PSU's Stormwater Management Policy
h. Use of slow release fertilizers and/or carefully managed fertilizer applications timed to ensure maximum root uptake and minimal surface water runoff or leaching to groundwater.
i. Avoid the widespread application of broad spectrum pesticides by involving only purposeful and minimal application of pesticides, aimed at identified targeted species.
j. Coordinating pesticide application with irrigation practices to reduce runoff and leaching to groundwater.
k. Incorporating features into the design of fertilizer and pesticide storage, mixing and loading areas that are designed to prevent/minimize spillage.
l. Continually looking for alternatives to traditional pesticide use and stormwater practices, by seeking out natural methods that are also socially and economically acceptable.
m. Educating maintenance personnel about the need to maintain motor vehicles to prevent the accumulation of oil, grease and other fluids on impervious surfaces, where they might be conveyed to surface and ground waters by runoff, and the need to regularly collect and properly dispose of yard debris.
o. Vehicles may not be washed onsite. All vehicle washing must be done at a car wash connected to the City sanitary system.

In recognition of its commitment to stormwater management PSU was recently awarded the prestigious Salmon Safe Campus Certification, becoming the first institution of higher education to do so. This award speaks to the dedication of PSU community members across all sectors - landscaping, custodial, maintenance; students, faculty, staff, and administrators - who have resolved to minimize their use of harmful pesticides and other chemicals in favor of least-toxic pest control, cleaning, and general use products.


The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.