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Reilly Loveland

A project team recounts its net-zero building experience

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Published in the DJC Oregon: A project team recounts its net-zero building experience

In 2007, conceptualization began for a highly energy-efficient office building as part of a mixed-use development in Milwaukie. Around 12 years later, Northwest Housing Alternatives has a two-story headquarters on track for net-zero-energy certification. The five-building campus was designed by MWA Architects and built by O’Neill/Walsh Community Builders.

Three three-story, wood-framed buildings hold a total of 28 affordable housing units, and another building serves as an emergency shelter. All of those were designed and built to Earth Advantage platinum standards. But the office building stands out for exceptional sustainability. Project team members discussed the effort on Wednesday during an event held as part of Portland’s second annual Sustainable Building Week.

Crews broke ground in summer 2018 and finished roughly one year later. But design work dates back to 2013. “The project started with net zero as the goal,” said Bill Lanning, a MWA Architects principal and lead designer for the project. “Early in the design it was going to be net-zero ready, but as we moved through design and funds were made available through grants we were able to add the solar.”

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Tour old, new zero-energy homes that make more power than they use

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Published in the Oregonian: Tour old, new zero-energy homes that make more power than they use

People living in the new Tillamook Row housing complex in Northeast Portland are expecting to pay nothing in energy bills. About a mile away in the King neighborhood, a second, smaller home makes more renewable energy than the occupants use.

Across Portland are newly built dwellings and older ones retrofitted to be so environmentally smart — with an airtight, super-insulated structure and energy-efficient features such as carefully positioned solar panels — that, over the course of a year, they reward residents with zero energy bills and a carbon-free home.

The event’s goal is to show “surprisingly simple, accessible and innovative strategies” homeowners can adopt to reduce energy bills, say organizers, who include nonprofit clean energy advocate Solar Oregon, environmentally driven builders, architects and designers like Green Hammer plus organizations that promote sustainable construction such as Passive House Northwest, Earth Advantage and the Home Performance Council of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland.

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A call for designs that provide Portland a more equitable future

By | News, Press

Published in the DJC Oregon: Black Women Help Kick off Sustainable Building Week

The notion of equity in design can have many different meanings.

For instance, the U.S. Green Building Council in 2013 introduced Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design social equity pilot credits. They address equity within the project team, equity in the community around a project and equity within the project supply chain. However … “When folks questioned us about the human impact we found it was missing the people side of the framework,” said Kimberly Lewis, U.S. Green Building Council senior vice president for market transformation and development.

Six years later, the LEED social equity credits remain a work in progress. But Lewis believes the design community can do more to move the needle. “We struggle with amplifying the message,” she told attendees at a panel discussion Tuesday at the Center for Architecture in Portland. “Our heart and our mission are as powerful as we want, and it’s a great social justice message. But to the people on the street all things are local, and engaging vulnerable communities is not easy. Trust takes time, and we have a responsibility to shift the conversation. It’s us – even here.”

The discussion was part of Portland’s second annual Sustainable Building Week, a weeklong event dedicated to sustainable design and construction.

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‘Grassroots’ building industry conference on tap

By | News, Press

Published in the Oregon Daily Journal of Commerce‘Grassroots’ building industry conference on tap

Sustainable Building Week was born of recognition that some of the Portland-area building industry organizations had overlapping and in some cases redundant events.

Organizers reasoned: Why not bring them together under one umbrella? So they did.

Next week the conference returns for a second year, bringing together architects, engineers, product manufacturers, builders, subcontractors, developers and others for a series of green-building talks and events.

The conference organizers hope to encourage cross-pollination. For example, landscape architects are welcome to join American Institute of Architects events.

“You’re just kind of breaking down the silos between the professions a little bit more,” said Terry Campbell, co-founder of Sustainable Building Week and one of five volunteers who run it. “This is very much a business professionals’ series of events.”

Most events are open to the general public, although the topics are geared toward building-industry professionals and aspiring professionals. Some of the events are free, while others require a modest fee or donation.

Last year, the inaugural Sustainable Building Week attracted 700 to 800 people to 23 events. This year’s iteration will have about 30 events.

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Sustainable Building Week: reviving Portland’s lost momentum?

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Published in Portland Architecture: Sustainable Building Week: reviving Portland’s lost momentum?

There was a time 10-15 years ago in the early 2000s when the city seemed to be continually registering firsts when it came to green buildings, especially the LEED rating system. We saw some of the first LEED-rated office buildings, the first historic building on the National Register to earn a Platinum LEED rating, and the first medical building to earn that distinction. And these pioneering efforts seemed to follow on the heels of similarly lead-taking efforts in the realm of urban planning.

It’s not to say no innovation is happening today, for in particular Portland seems to be modestly ahead of the national curve when it comes to mass-timber-framed buildings, which are inherently greener than any steel or concrete-framed structure. We’ve continued to explore eco-districts as well, and to look at not just net-zero energy usage in our homes and workplaces but net-zero carbon.

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Black Women Help Kick off Sustainable Building Week

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Published in the The Skanner: Black Women Help Kick off Sustainable Building Week

Join members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. at Portland’s first and only “green building” owned and operated by African-American women–the June Key Delta Community Center– for a community conversation about how the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund and other resources are being developed to create equitable access to the clean energy future.

Learn about the history of the June Key Delta Community Center and the importance of sustainability to one group of African-American women. Attendees and panelists will discuss how people of color can constructively challenge and influence how decisions are made, access clean energy funds, and work together to construct more green buildings in traditionally marginalized community.

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SBW 2019 Schedule is Live!

By | Blog, News, Press

We are so proud of the Portland sustainability community for collaborating to develop a week of brilliant events that will inspire, educate, and provide networking opportunities. Currently we have 26 events on our calendar ranging from tours, panels, happy hours, and even yoga, hiking, and running (!!). More events are being planned so stay tuned to our website! If you’re looking for a physical postcard of events, visit the Center for Architecture or hit up one of the executive committee members (and ask them for a button!)

Why I joined SBW & what I hope to see this year

By | Blog, News

I have long been inspired by our local influencers in high performance building and Portland’s efforts in moving the needle on all things Green.

Being on the builder side of the sustainability equation has been both empowering and limiting. Often a project’s sustainability prospects live and die based on the owner’s program/pro forma. As builders, however, it is our responsibility to advocate for the highest performing, most durable building we can produce, shepherding owners and subcontractors along the path when needed. Easier in theory than in practice because we do also have a responsibility to advocate for the owner’s bottom line (budget, schedule, program) and the architect’s design intent. It is indeed a delicate balance to strike, but when we lock arms, not only as a project team, but further, as an industry, to share knowledge, stories of success & failures, and commit to collaboration, we can hit on all parts of the equation: budget, design AND sustainability. There are many myths and stories about why this can’t work, but events and efforts like SBW are debunking these notions.

Last year I attended several SBW events. The event that really struck a chord with me was held by collaborator “Zero Energy Ready Oregon” (ZERO) and included Nathan Young (MODS PDX), Mike Steffen (Walsh Construction), and Vassar Byrd (CEO of Rose Villa who spoke on the The Oaks at Rose Villa, built by Green Hammer). The topics they touched on included building sustainably while tackling affordable housing issues, delivering quality senior housing, gaining efficiencies through pre-fab, and the concept of folding design, budgeting & program into a more wholistic, collaborative effort. This event reminded me that there is synergy here in PDX around sustainability; that there are very smart, passionate people working extremely hard to do good; and that anyone who cares enough to roll up their sleeves and put forth the effort to align their interests with action can make a difference. This inspired me to act and get involved with SBW.

This year, my hope is that we reach more people who have an interest in sustainability, but perhaps aren’t sure how they can make a difference. SBW is an opportunity for Portlanders to explore this question and learn how to contribute to the collective efforts being made right here in our city.

Authored by Aaron Stevens, Walsh Construction, Co-Executive Director of Sustainable Building Week