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Institute for Sustainable Solutions

Collaboration for sustainable communities.

At the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, we match the passion and expertise of Portland State University faculty and students with the experience and needs of community groups, government agencies, and businesses to develop practical solutions for more equitable, livable, sustainable cities and regions.  

Focus areas

We are focusing our work on the following three areas to address climate change and improve the quality of life for all our region’s residents.

  • Climate Resilient Cities: Meeting the challenges of climate change and natural disasters
  • Healthy Neighborhoods: Ensuring clean air, water, and lands for healthier communities
  • Sustainable Housing and Transportation: Rethinking infrastructure to increase access and reduce pollution 

Featured Project: Small Backyard Homes

We're spearheading an initiative to make it easier and more affordable for Portland homeowners to construct a second house on their property—increasing housing options in a city with some of the fastest rising rents and lowest vacancy rates in the nation.

Called “accessory dwelling units” or ADUs, these small backyard homes provide more affordable housing options while reducing pollutants that cause climate change. 


About our programs

Portland Climate Action Collaborative 

A partnership between the city and ISS to advance goals outlined in the Portland and Multnomah County Climate Action Plan.

Living Lab Program

Matching motivated faculty and students with University staff to work on projects that support PSU’s campus sustainability and climate action goals.

Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative 

Connecting PSU students and faculty with community organizations in long-term partnerships to advance neighborhood-scale efforts.

Sustainability Internship Program 

Providing students real-world experience through paid internships in professional fields that focus on resilience.

Faculty Fellows and 
Student Fellows 

Over 400 faculty and students from dozens of departments at PSU pursue sustainability research, teaching, learning, and action.

Urban Sustainability Accelerator 

Helping urban areas across the U.S. implement their sustainability projects—moving plans, concepts, and policies to reality.



What we do:

We develop solutions to complex sustainability challenges in our city, region, and world by convening partners and co-designing projects that leverage student and faculty expertise and add capacity to help community organizations and government agencies advance their goals.

We address inequities in policymaking processes connected to sustainability issues by partnering with historically underserved communities through organizations like Living Cully, Green Lents, and APANO.

We unlock opportunities for faculty and students from across campus to connect with each other and work on pressing sustainability issues. The Institute has more than 110 Faculty Fellows and 300 Student Fellows who represent dozens of disciplines and are committed to creating a more equitable, livable world.

We enhance PSU students’ educational experience in sustainability fields with new courses and applied projects, paid internships, scholarships, mentorships, and professional development grants. All of these efforts increase the chance these students will graduate and have productive professional careers in sustainability and contribute to the civic life of their community. 

Learn more in our 2016 Impact Report

Meet Institute staff and Advisory CouncilSubscribe to our e-newsletter.

The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation has provided generous support since 2008 to catalyze the work of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions and its partners across campus and beyond. Help build a better future by investing in education and supporting the Institute for Sustainable Solutions' work.