Economic Development Portsmouth

City Initiatives

Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee on Sustainability

The Committee on Sustainable Practices was established by the Mayor and City Council to help them lead the City toward increased sustainability, a goal of the City's 2005 10 Year Master Plan.
Committee's  focuses areas:

  1. Increasing awareness of the importance and value of sustainable practices among Portsmouth residents, business owners, non-resident employees of Portsmouth businesses, visitors to the City, municipal staff, and other stakeholders;
  2. Advising the City Manager and City Council on improving the sustainability of City operations including such aspects as the energy efficiency of City buildings and vehicles, purchasing guidelines, and alternative fuels; and,
  3. Advising the City Council on a sustainable approach to the future growth and redevelopment of Portsmouth.

The Committee is made up of 7 members listed here:


Portsmouth CREAT Climate Resiliency Report:
Click here to learn about the resilience of Portsmouth’s drinking water and wastewater systems to climate change.


Green Buildings

The Portsmouth Public Library, New Hampshire's first municipal building to receive the prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) ( silver certification, has been recognized for its design and construction in the areas of energy conservation, recycling, lighting, and use of local materials. The library also contains other sustainable features such as low flow toilets, native drought resistant plants in the landscaping, and printers which release fumes out of the building, instead of in.
Despite being twice the size, electricity consumption was only up 50 percent from the former site. And even though the new building is 116 percent larger than the old facility and open more often, the amount of natural gas used to heat it decreased by 66.7 percent, saving the city $20,000 in the library's first year of operation. A self guided tour of the library which goes into greater detail about the sustainable features of the Portsmouth Public Library can be found here:

Drinking Water Treatment Plant
Located in Madbury NH, the water treatment plant has become the third building under the City of Portsmouth to be certified LEED silver.  Its green features include solar hot water collectors, heat pumps, and "daylight harvesting" all of which reduce the buildings carbon footprint. The building itself is also sustainable as the material used to construct it is made of recycled materials. Lastly the building itself is highly energy efficient and exceeds the current energy code by 30%.

Fire Station 
The City completed the construction of Fire Station 2 in the summer of 2010 at its new location, 3010 Lafayette Road. Some of the "green" features of this project include a super-insulated building envelope, high-efficiency natural gas boilers for heat and innovative site features to treat storm water. These features will result in significant annual operating cost savings and improved environmental conditions over a conventionally designed and built facility. The building was declared LEED Silver in May of 2011.

Energy Efficiency Program
The Department of Public Works Water and Sewer Division
Has started a rebate program. The program will allow eligible resident waste water customers to receive a rebate for old toilets and washer machines. (

Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that does not soak into the ground. Stormwater in a forest, meadow, or other natural environment usually soaks into the ground, i.e., infiltrates, or is filtered as it flows along the ground and over native vegetation. When water falls on roads and parking lots it often makes its way into nearby streams and waterbodies untreated. The pollutants carried with this stormwater said to be the most pressing pollutant problem we are facing today and are being addressed through the Clean Water Act. The City of Portsmouth is working to reduce the pollution caused by stormwater through the use of innovative stormwater treatment. At a number of locations throughout the City there are treebox filters which utilize soil and root structure of trees to reduce pollutants entering waterbodies. In addition the City has installed rain gardens, bio-swales and advanced catch basins engineered to swirl the contaminants out of the water.  More information about the City's Stormwater treatment can be found here:


The Portsmouth School Board has recently completed a first reading of a sustainability policy which will help to further the school system's support for sustainable beliefs and practices.
Clipper Farm to School Grant
The Clippers Farm to School Grant is a USDA grant which wishes "to cultivate a strong farm to school program in the Portsmouth School district by focusing on personal, community, an environmental wellness, through education, as well as growing and procuring healthy, fresh, and local foods for our classrooms, cafes, and consciousness. The School Department currently has the planning grant.

Elementary Schools
All three elementary schools have recycling and composting in their cafeterias. Bike racks and school gardens are also located on school grounds. All have also incorporated try-its into the lunch menu from The Clipper Farm to School Grant.

Portsmouth Middle School
When the Portsmouth Middle Schoolwas completed, the school became more sustainable than it was previously. Made with green materials, the middle school has improved its water efficiency, and uses renewable energy whenever possible. By doing so, the indoor environment for students' and staff has increased its opportunities for a positive learning environment. The project follows the guidelines of the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools, which is comparable to LEED certification for other buildings. The School Department is currently pursuing a certification with the Collaborative for High Performance Schools.

Portsmouth High School
In 2006 Portsmouth High School was rated as an energy smart school by the EPA, and from there only more good things have occurred. The high school's Environmental Change Organization or ECO Club has completed a fundraising campaign and purchased solar panels (not yet installed), received funding from the Piscataqua Region Estuary Partnership to build  a rain garden, and it has begun a program dubbed "Trashless Tuesdays" where volunteers compost waste left over from student's lunches. The club also holds various fundraisers throughout the year, and is looking to create a bee and butterfly garden at PHS within the next year, along with the building of a greenhouse, which has been designed by a PHS student.

Coastal Resilience

  • The City's completed a study focused on Portsmouth's vulnerability to Climate Change with a detailed focus on coastal storm surges and sea level rise. The findings of this study, which looks at a number of adaptation strategies and recommendations for future adaptation actions, is intended to be incorporated into the City's Master Plan. 
  • Summary information and the full report can be found here.

Open Spaces
The City's Conservation Commission has completed a number of inventory efforts looking wetlands, important upland areas, and conservation opportunities. In addition the Commission has increased the protection of wetlands, and is working on improving its stewardship efforts.  A number of studies highlight the work that has been done:


The City is working on a number of initiatives to support the City's effort to become more bikable and walkable.  For more updates on implementation of the Bicycle Pedestrian Plan see the City's Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning page.

Sustainability Initiatives City Projects
Below is a lis of additional Sustainability Initiatives the City is working or has completed

  • Our single stream recycling (everything goes into one bin) allows tonnage to be increased, and makes it easier to be picked up
  • Pilot cooking oil recycling program, reduces the amount of oil being put down the drain
  • The city's fleet of desiel vehicles uses 20% bio diesel in the summer and 5% in the winter
  • The Department of Public Works building upgraded lights resulting in a 30% energy savings
  • The City upgraded lights at the parking garage lowering electricity use by 30%
  • The City is exploring the possibility of upgrading its street lights to LED bulbs to reduce electricity costs and increase nighttime visibility and safety.
  • The city has a no idling policy for all city vehicles, decreasing the amount of fumes emitted into the atmosphere