The Institute for Sustainable Solutions leads initiatives that bring together campus and community partners to develop practical solutions for more equitable, livable, sustainable cities and regions.

Learn about key initiatives in each of our three focus areas: Climate Resilient Cities, Healthy Neighborhoods, Sustainable Housing and Transportation.

Climate resilient cities

Climate Resilient Cities: Meeting the challenges of climate change and natural disasters.

Climate change is introducing new risks to city residents: increased flooding, heat waves, spread of diseases, and so much more. ISS supports research partnerships that identify risks and propose changes to how cities are designed and maintained so residents are better able to withstand and recover from the adverse effects of a changing climate. Current initiatives include:

Portland urban heat island mapUrban Heat Island Mitigation

By working closely with government and community groups, this project aims to reduce the adverse health impacts of urban heat waves for vulnerable populations.




Portland urban heat island mapResilient Portland

The Institute for Sustainable Solutions is convening eight city agencies to develop a unified plan to better respond to community needs should a major disaster hit.


Willamette RiverFlooding on the Willamette

By evaluating historic flood events and assessing the impacts to infrastructure and communities, this project aims to better prepare Portland for future flooding.


Living Lab studentsLiving Lab

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

Healthy Neighborhoods

Healthy Neighborhoods: Ensuring clean air, water, and lands for healthier communities.

This focus area builds on projects and partnerships formed through our Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative and includes work on measuring, understanding, and finding ways to reduce exposure to toxic air pollution. Current initiatives include:

air quality researchClean Air for Portland

The Institute is collaborating with community advocates, government agencies, and legal advisors to pursue cleaner air for local communities.


Canopy Story mapCanopy Story

A public website that pinpoints trees in Portland and invites residents to share related histories, family memories, or urban legends, with the goal of demonstrating the value residents place on trees in the city.


Lents community workshopAffordable FEMA for Johnson Creek Floodplain

A collaborative project that helped the Portland Housing Bureau launch a program that could help low- and moderate-income residents prevent displacement and stay in their homes.




Sustainable housing and transportation

Sustainable Housing and Transportation: Rethinking infrastructure to increase access and reduce pollution

Most of the world’s people live in cities, and everyday activities of city residents are significant generators of pollution and climate change. ISS is facilitating and supporting projects that rethink the way cities are built to reduce pollution, improve how city dwellers live, and provide more equitable access to housing, transportation, and urban amenities. Current initiatives include:

Small Backyard Homes community workshopSmall Backyard Homes Initiative

Confronting rising housing costs and climate change by make it easier and more affordable for Portland homeowners to construct a second house, called an accessory dwelling unit or ADU, on their property.


Urban Sustainability AcceleratorUrban Sustainability Accelerator 

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


Deconstruction of a houseDeconstruction vs. Demolition

The Institute for Sustainable Solutions' economic study on the value of deconstruction was key to the Portland City Council implementing a climate-friendly policy to require deconstruction for homes built in 1916 or earlier.