Tag Archives: Portland

Which Living Building are you most excited for?

In the Pacific  Northwest, there are a number of living buildings in different stages of development. But in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, B.C., there are three projects that stand out and will be fascinating to compare.

The projects are Seattle’s  Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction, Portland’s Oregon Sustainability Center and Vancouver’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability. Though each is very different, they are large and significant enough to be comparable.  Unlike most living buildings, which have to date been smaller structures in isolated landscapes, each of these is in the center of a city. Each are being built by nonprofit or educational organizations. Each will act as a nexus of sustainability for their respective communities.

Of the three, CIRS in Vancouver is furthest ahead, and should be ready for occupancy this summer. The 60,000-square-foot, four-story structure is a dry-lab research facility for the University of British Columbia. It’s budget is $37 million Canadian. It was designed by Busby, Perkins + Will. I wrote a previous post about the project here.

Next, comes the Bullitt Foundation’s headquarters in Seattle. The Bullitt project, on Capitol Hill, will be six stories and a basement over 52,000 square feet. It is designed by The Miller Hull Partnership and Schuchart is the general contractor. Point32 is the development partner. Completion is planned for next summer. Bullitt is not releasing its budget but plans to release other detailed information on performance and development. At the design presentation for the project earlier this month, Jason McLennan of the Cascadia Green Building Council said “I think this is the most important building being built in the country today,” he said. “It’s going to open up a whole new set of eyes.”

Third, is the Portland project. It recently completed final design and should begin construction in early 2012, with an opening in late 2013. The team includes Gerding Edlen, SERA Architects, GBD Architects and Skanska Construction. The Portland Daily Journal of Commerce reported that the project’s budget is $59.3 million, not including $4 million needed to align streetcar tracks beneath it. The seven-story building will be 130,000-square-feet. It’s funded by the City of Portland, the Portland Development Commission and the Oregon University System.

Though each is similar, a “green competition” has sprouted from the beginning between the Seattle and Portland projects. Time recently published a post on the “green war” here.

Though each building must accomplish the broad goals of the living building challenge (provide all energy, treat and provide all water) they are meeting the goals in different ways. In large part, jurisdictional codes and requirements have influenced design. The Vancouver building, for example, is essentially becoming its own waste treatment plant and will provide all its own water. The Bullitt project will use composting toilets, and is struggling with the ability to treat rainwater. I’m excited to see how each performs.

Which building are you most excited for? Which one do you think is the prettiest, or the one that you respond to best aesthetically? Answer our poll at right or comment below with your reasons!

P.S. For more on Seattle’s first building designed to living building standards that is complete, the Science Wing at the Bertschi School, click the living building tab or go here. It hasn’t received certification yet but is on track to do so!

The 10 Winners of What Makes it Green

The honors have been doled out. The party’s done. And AIA’s What Makes It Green is over for another year. To read my article in the DJC, click here.

There have been some interesting blog postings on this year’s ceremony. Dan Bertolet’s self-described rant at hugeasscity talks about the title of the awards, and whether, after all this time, we still don’t know what makes it green. Dominic Holden at The Stranger also weighed in on the point of the awards here. The AIA Seattle COTE also live-blogged the process (go here if you want a full list of winners). 

Of the ten projects that won, it surprises me that six are in Washington. Two are in Seattle. If we’re really looking at the greenest of the green, I would expect a wider range of geographic locations (considering the competition was open to designers and architects in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Guam, Hawaii, Hong Kong and Japan). 

This year’s project winners included one project in Leavenworth, one in Woodinville, two in Seattle, one in Olympia, one on San Juan Island, one in Victoria, B.C., one in Billings, Mont., one in Portland and one in Denver.

By way of comparison, last year’s winners included one two from Seattle, one in Tacoma, one in Issaquah, one in Bremerton, one in Billings, Mont., one in Corvallis, Ore., one in Portland, one in Salem and one in Bend. 

(Incidentally, both winners in Billings went to the same architecture firm – High Plains Architects).

But here’s the thing: an awards process is only as good as the entries it receives. And from what I’ve heard, it takes a lot of time and effort to put a project entry together. So what can you do?

I don’t have the answer. But I do have winning project pictures. Here are a few of them: enjoy!

Portland nonprofit needs your extra office supplies

When I was a kid, I remember buying stacks of colorful paper for projects. Despite my best intentions, I’d use a few sheets and the rest would – I’m guessing – end up in the recycling bin.

A Portland nonprofit knows this phenomenon and is targeting those stacks of paper – or your extra office supplies – and turning it into a community benefit.

SCRAP, or the School & Community Reuse Action Project, was founded in 1998 by teachers who didn’t want to throw extra classroom material away. The organization takes donations of office supplies (for which you receive a tax write-off) and then sells the material to crafty people or to schools. It diverts 65,000 pounds of material each year from landfills, and also provides art and environmental activity outreach.

With the recent recession, more and more people have been looking for cheaper forms of entertainment and SCRAP has seen more business. But an e-mail I received last week says it has been so busy that it is running out of supplies.

If you have been looking for a way to get rid of old calculators or letterhead from 1980, this might be a good tip for you.

A number of items are flying off SCRAP’s shelves. They include out-of-date letterhead, unique paper stock and interesting fabric and yarn. Recent popular items have been X-ray images from head scans and old fencing masks.

Other items on the organization’s wish list include: mannequin parts, calculators, staplers, hole punches, paper cutters, spools of wire, PVC pieces, certain promotional items, small discontinued accent items, coasters, jewelry and bead bits and “shiny, sparkly stuff.”

For more information, visit SCRAP’s Web site at http://scrapaction.org/.

Portland chooses Gerding Edlen for $80 million living building

A proposed living building in Portland is moving along. This week, the Portland Development Commission announced its plans to award the project’s feasibility study to Gerding Edlen Development.

A living building is a building that meets the Living Building Challenge. The challenge goes beyond LEED platinum. A living building is self-sustaining, and aims to produce and reuse all its resources like energy and water. Since the concept was introduced by Jason McLennan of the Cascadia Green Building Council in December 2006, a number of projects have taken the challenge on. Most of them are on the smaller side, or are residences.

What makes the Portland project unique is its size. The building would be around 220,000-square-feet.

The project, called the Sustainability Center of Excellence, is on a super fast track. It received proposals two weeks ago and held a public meeting last week. Yesterday, the PDC announced it intends to award the project to Gerding Edlen, along with SERA Architects and GBD Architects. The three main partners in the project are the PDC, the Oregon University System and the Living Building Initiative, a consortium of organizations focused on sustainability.

Gerding Edlen and its team will investigate whether the project is feasible. If it is, it will have the option to move ahead with project development.

The goal of the building will be to attract other sustainably-minded businesses to Portland and to Oregon. Do you think this is a good way to attract business? Should Seattle be following in Portland’s footsteps, or are we too different to compare?

Locally, the Phinney Neighborhood Association hopes to turn the Phinney Neighborhood Center (everyone’s favorite giant blue building) into a living building. The Bullitt Foundation has also purchased a property and is just in the beginning stages of considering whether to do a living building or not. Am I missing any local living building projects? If so let me know.

For more information or some interesting local opinions on this project, visit Portland Architecture here, the Burnside Blog here, or read this article in the Portland Tribune. Enjoy!

National energy shout out to Bellingham! Gooo B-ham!

The Environmental Protection Agency announced its 2008 Green Power Leadership Awards and the community of Bellingham is officially one of five national winners in the Green Power Partner of the Year Category. And the only winner (in that category) that is a city, or community as the case may be. And oh, by the way, it’s the second year it has won this award.

For those of you who don’t know, Bellingham basically rocks when it comes to

The beautiful city of Bellingham

The beautiful city of Bellingham

renewable energy. In early 2007, the Bellingham local government chose to buy 100 percent green power for all city-owned facilities. Later the same year, the city helped launch the Bellingham Green Power Community Challenge, the goal of which was to increase green power purchasing among city residents and businesses to more than 2 percent of the city-wide electricity use. The community has surpassed the goal and buys more than 81 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy certificates; about 11 percent of the community’s total electrical use. More than 2,400 households and businesses buy power through the challenge.

Portland General Electric won an award in another category – the Green Power Beacon Award. In part, the utility won the award for its GreenPowerOregon.com Web site, which features coupons, a power calculator and information.

Other winners in the award category included Intel Corp, University of Pennsylvania and Cisco Systems. Winners in other categories included The Estee Lauder Companies, PepsiCo., the Philadelphia Phillies.

Almost inspires you to pay that extra $3, $6 or $12 a month towards renewable energy, eh?

For more information, visit the city of Bellingham’s Climate Protection Program.