Portland's Green New Deal Could Hike Cost Of School Renovations

Nov 20, 2020

A ballot question passed by Portland voters earlier this month could increase the costs of a four-school renovation project by more than $3 million.

Reiche School in Portland in 2016.
Credit John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons/public domain

At a school committee meeting on Thursday night, project architects said that the city’s just-passed Green New Deal referendum question could require the projects to meet more stringent energy codes and labor requirements.

Architect Mark Lee said that while the new ordinance likely doesn’t apply to all of the four school renovation plans, it could potentially increase costs by $3.5 million. He says that could potentially pull money away from renovating educational spaces.

“For educational activities, and other aspects of how you use the building. And we’d have to put that money into the envelope — the physical building itself,” he says.

Lee says education officials are communicating with the city about the full implications of the ballot measure, and will have more clarity on next steps in the coming weeks.

The original $64 million four-school renovation bond was passed by Portland voters three years ago.