We’re celebrating five years of Sustainable Building Week and to help mark the occasion we’re launching Five Things: a series of interviews that connects our five years to you, Portland’s sustainability community. In the coming weeks, follow along as we share answers to five questions we’re posing to some of the biggest movers and shakers in our city, who are working to keep Portland green.
Describe what your day job is and what you do.
As a consultant, I figure out ways to bridge the information gap between owner/developers and sustainability. Many owners don’t think it’s possible or too expensive to build the right way. I look at manageable interventions at the project/property level to help them make better decisions with development projects, major renovations, and Capex. I’m constantly researching existing and new innovations to reduce our water, waste, and energy usage. I make my recommendation along with a business case as to how my suggestion will get paid for or the future return on cost. In the next few months, I’m going to go work on an organic farm in Rome and then help develop a garden in Costa Rica.
What do you hope attendees will get out of Sustainable Building Week?
Sustainable Building Week allows those working in the sustainability trenches to highlight what they are accomplishing and share those successes with the building industry and the City of Portland. This can foster collaborations and help innovate sustainability professionals. It’s so inspiring to see the work that these diverse groups of stakeholders are working on which in turn helps me in my career to bridge information gaps with decision-makers.
What does “sustainable” mean to you?
Being sustainable means utilizing the full potential of a building site for more than just a consumer of resources. How can buildings be less wasteful by renovating existing buildings, using local and/or deconstructed materials, or using prefabricated building systems to reduce material waste and consumption? We can build to enhance the community such as creating 5-minute neighborhoods and green public spaces.
What inroads has Portland made and what still needs to be done to “keep Portland green?
Portland has done a great job of building mixed-use properties, installing bike infrastructure, and creating a large amount of green space. In order to really keep Portland green, the building codes need to be updated to get builders to develop buildings closer to net zero, as well as help commercial development by pulling from more renewable energy sources besides hydropower.
Name a Portland (or Oregon) project or collaboration that has inspired you and tell us why you are inspired by it.
Like many, I’m grateful to PAE for pushing the code in building the first fully certified Living Building. The availability and knowledge of the entire team have helped educate many in Portland to show what good looks like and how possible it is. Marc Brune has also been so transparent in sharing the costs of the project, where many have kept their numbers close to the vest. It helps other owners and developers make the financial decisions required to build toward Living Building standards.