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

By September 12, 2019 No Comments

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