County jails go green, save money through new Sustainable Jail Project

April 20, 2012

Multnomah County has already saved $400,000 at the county’s two jails, thanks to a joint project by the Sheriff’s Office and Office of Sustainability to successfully apply sustainability principles at the jails.

Details of the savings from the Sustainable Jail Project so far were announced at the April 19 Board of Commissioners meeting by Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton, Chief Deputy Mike Shults and Office of Sustainability Director Kat West.

The project, which began as a small-scale effort in 2010, reflects the county’s department-wide commitment to sustainability. Officers and inmates alike have seen numerous changes with new sustainable initiatives that have included switching from Styrofoam to reusable cups, using recycled twine to wrap laundry and capturing, treating and recycling water used to wash clothes and bedding.

The $400,000 in savings so far with those initial practices is expected to grow with additional sustainability initiatives at the jails.

Some of the future objectives highlighted include:

  • Digitizing the law library, saving about $70,000 annually.
  • Upgrading the laundry facility at Inverness Jail with water recycling and energy saving systems, saving $57,000 per year.
  • Reducing total energy use of the jails 20 percent by 2020.
  • Reducing water use in county jails 10 percent by 2015.
  • Working with food contractors to buy at least 10 percent of food locally.

“The Multnomah County Sustainable Jail Project really is the first of its kind, innovative model for the rest of the nation around sustainable, cost-effective jail operations,” West said at the board presentation. “The convenient truth is using resources wisely saves money.”  

In 2010, efforts from the Sheriff's Office (in partnership with the Office of Sustainability) to work toward more sustainable jail operations marked the beginning stages of what has evolved into the Sustainable Jail Project.


Related links

The Sustainable Jail Project
Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
Multnomah County Office of Sustainability