Portland has an amazing sustainability community and we want to highlight the amazing people and work that shapes our unique city. We’re sharing their answers to questions we posed.
Meet Peter Harrison!
Peter is a recognized emerging leader in the built environment industry who brings a fresh, collaborative spirit, and gregarious enthusiasm to his role as a designer and the Resilience Leader at Gensler Portland. In his role he pushes forward, within the 35-person office, the studio’s and firm’s goals/public commitments which include many faucets: healthier materials, embodied carbon, LEED, Living Building Challenge, Fitwel certification, ESG, inclusive design, net zero energy, and adaptive reuse. In his work he brings a strong sense of self authenticity and encourages psychological safety: firmly believing empathy and vulnerability as the bedrock of stakeholder and team engagement.
What does sustainable mean to you?
Sustainability is about resiliency (in every sense of the word) and a determination in a future that our current and future generations can enjoy.
Name a Portland (or Oregon) project or collaboration that has inspired you, and tell us why you are inspired by it.
Portland Youth Climate Strike. I proudly sit between the crux of Millennial and Gen Z and so I really admire and appreciate the urgency in which my generation with groups like the Portland Youth Climate Strike are standing up and speaking out on climate change and its effect on OUR generation. Unfortunately so much of the discussion on climate action is centered from senior leadership in which incremental based change is prioritized while the true action that’s needed at a lighting pace – from a local, state, regional, and federal level is lacking. Youth and younger folks are demanding boldly a future that is regenerative, resilient, and sustainable.
What can Portland (or Oregon) be doing better to be more sustainable?
I’d like for us to really revolutionize our approach to housing. I’ve lived in Oregon for over 5 years: as a renter and now a condo owner with a year-and-half stint in between exploring tiny living in a 325 SF ADU. While our state has taken great steps to support many aspects of housing, I’d like to see so much more development and support (policy and financially) for different solutions like ADUs, Cottage Clusters, Multi-Family (Duplexes, Triplexes, and Fourplexes), and various forms of non-traditional housing. We used to live as a society in much more communal and intergenerational ways and so I’d like to see us prioritize housing that supports that. Besides the necessity to address the housing crisis it will also help immensely address our loneliness and mental health epidemic.