NW 5th Ave, shot on 2015, Mitra Dunn

At SERA, we believe that a fully sustainable workplace is the logical first step toward practicing sustainability in our projects and helps nurture a culture of sustainability. By “walking our talk” we continue to discover new ways to work, interact and create more sustainable environments. In fact, that’s our mission:

We listen. We collaborate. We envision. We iterate. We share.
We design. Sustainable placemaking at every scale.

We hope to create change that ripples out into the world.

100% Employee Ownership

SERA is committed to a greater level of employee engagement and entrepreneurial involvement than is customarily found in an architectural firm. 100% of the stock of SERA Architects, Inc. is held in an Employee Stock Ownership Trust and our employees are the beneficiaries of that Trust. Being employee-owned empowers our staff in decision-making, one of SERA’s fundamental values that serves both the long-term health of the firm and our employee-owners.


In 2002, SERA leadership went through an intensive training in The Natural Step Framework and then instigated an extensive office-wide backcasting process. Backcasting is a process that reverses the standard forecasting approach by first establishing a future vision — in our case, a fully sustainable workplace — and then works backwards to develop the steps required to achieve that vision. The lessons learned from the backcasting process continue to permeate all aspects of SERA’s culture and operations.

One of the most prominent results of this process was the creation an employee-based Sustainable Action Committee (SAC). This volunteer group helps oversee the execution of sustainable business policies, practices, and strategies for the firm. Each year, SAC throws Sustainable Action Celebrations to share the company’s efforts and accomplishments with fellow employees, clients and community members.


Work Environment

Our work environment is a direct reflection of the firm’s commitment to practice sustainability in our daily lives: we purchase 100% wind power; provide staff with sustainable office supplies from local vendors; and commit to green housekeeping practices, waste diversion, and a sustainable catering policy which includes food waste composting.

Employee Commuting

SERA’s Portland office was selected for its central location along the downtown transit mall, within a quarter mile of four light rail lines and 36 bus lines. Our commute policy rewards those who do not use single occupancy vehicles for commuting, and consequently we don’t provide parking at our downtown office.

We provide public transit passes to those who commute via public transit, and provide an equivalent cash bonus to those who commute by walking, bicycling, or carpooling.

We track employee commute practices with a daily sign-in system to understand the carbon impacts of commuting. SERA supports a strong bicycling culture with secure indoor bike storage, changing rooms, and a showering facility.

The office also has hybrid office cars and two office bikes for daytime travel such as job site visits. Additionally, we’re awfully proud of our back-to-back Portland Bike Commute Challenge first place titles within our business-size category!

“If you don’t know where you’re from, you will have a hard time saying where you’re going.” – Wendell Berry