Green Buildings

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The City of Portland adopted a green building policy and funded a Green Building Initiative, which is designed to expand market demand and provide technical services and resources for the building industry. The Portland Office of Planning and Sustainability promotes sustainability principles and practices.

Portland State Proposed Sustainability Center

The Portland-based International Living Building Institute administers Living Building Challenge, a performance standard more ecologically rigorous than the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum rating.

Oregon Sustainability Center

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was started in 2000 and initially was used in the construction of office buildings. The LEED for Homes program is tailored to the needs of single-family construction. Cascadia Green Building Council lists Some LEED buildings around the Portland region. Green building represents a nearly $50 billion industry in the United States and is projected to grow significantly.

The Oregon Sustainability Center (above and right), planned for the Portland State campus, is aiming for triple net-zero performance in energy, water and carbon emissions. The Oregon Sustainability Center is a public/private partnership between city and state government, higher education, nonprofit organizations and the business community. A 250,000 square foot urban, mixed-use high rise is planned that will also be the world’s first large “Living Building”. The Center is expected to produce 100% of its energy on site, integrating all systems to achieve net-zero energy consumption, regenerative water systems and collectively producing zero carbon footprint.

Portland State's Institute for Sustainable Solutions is a hub for science, business, educators, government, and the public. The Institute studies green buildings, urban ecodistricts, and large river basins. The College of Urban & Public Affairs has links to additional green building resources.

Port of Portland building - note geothermal pipes

The Port of Portland headquarters is Gold certified and uses geothermal pipes to supplement heating (above).

Portland Energy Conservation, Inc
Portland Energy Conservation, Inc (PECI) was originally created by the City of Portland as a public agency, but as public policy and the energy conservation field evolved, PECI was reorganized as a private, not-for-profit company. It's a leader in the field of energy efficiency solutions, and was awarded LEED Platinum certification for their First and Main tower, which offers a host of green features, including an eco-roof, insulated low-e glass windows, a high-efficiency HVAC system, and daylight dimming mechanisms to reduce lighting loads. The building was the first significant addition to the Portland skyline since Fox Tower opened in 2000.

Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, will convert the former Myer and Frank warehouse in Portland, into its new North American headquarters. It will be designed by Gerding Edlen and is shooting for LEED Platinum. Gerding Edlen has been a pioneer in green building development with dozens of Platinum and Gold certified buildings in Portland.

OSU Platinum Certified Power Plant

The new Energy Center at Oregon State University was certified LEED Platinum, making it the first LEED Platinum power plant in the United States. The new Energy Center is a CoGeneration facility, producing both electricity and and usable heat simultaneously. It's expected to save the university about $650,000 a year in energy costs and drastically reduce its carbon output.

Eco Roofs

Green roofs are red hot. The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services is promoting Ecoroofs which consist of a layer of vegetation and a waterproof membrane. An ecoroof significantly decreases stormwater runoff. You can get up to $5 per square foot for your ecoroof project. BES has more info on their Facebook page. Chicago claims it has 7 million square feet of green roofs installed. Washington, D.C., the next nearest American contender, is approaching 2 million square feet. Here's Sam Churchill's Portland Eco Roof Tour, conducted by Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services in the summer of 2011.

Portland Building Green roof

Portland is providing property owners and builders with design, permitting, and reduced or nullified stormwater impact fees and, sometimes, with labor for the installation. If a green roof meets certain design standards—ones proven effective at reducing stormwater flows, the City will also give a $5-per square-foot grant to help finance the project.Portland now devotes $1 million annually to such grants and, since the 2008 start of the program, 30 green roofs have been installed and 70 more are in some phase of progress. Sam Churchill has shot photos and video clips of the Bureau of Environmental Services tour of eco roofs in Portland.

The Bureau of Environmental Services has more on EcoRoofs. The Greenroof Info Think-tank (GRiT) is a Portland-based meeting place that provides members of GRiT with a shared calendar, discussion forums, member profiles and a photo gallery.

Portland Building Green roof

The Ramona has both solar arrays and the largest continuous ecoroof in the City of Portland - 31,600 ft², while the Meriwether has several ecoroofs that total 41,400 ft². BES staff visited the project last week and took some great panoramic photos. The roof also has a 30 kWh array of PV panels that should produce enough electricity to run the elevators and most of the hallway lights.


The U.S. Green Building Council is a non-profit working to make green buildings available to everyone and has a list of green buildings.

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