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Dec 20, 2007, 4:31 PM
Now this will be life at sustainable edge
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Imagine living in perhaps the most sustainable building possible: drinking rainwater, not using the pipes to the sewer and collecting waste from your composting toilet to fertilize a local forest.
Nine Portlanders won't have to imagine. That's how they'll live in the Kenton Living Building, to be built on the southwest corner of North Watts Street and Interstate, along the Interstate MAX line.
Construction won't begin until spring or summer, but the $1.5 million project is already generating buzz. The designers won a leadership award for it in October at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago.
"This is not about starving in the wilderness," says Clark Brockman, a lead designer and associate principal of SERA Architects. "It's about changing the way we live and acknowledging there are limits. That's really the shift."
Carbon emission is tied more to buildings than anything else, he says, giving the project urgency.
The idea came in response to the Living Building Challenge designed by the Cascadia Region U.S. Green Building Council. The challenge includes 16 benchmarks, such as energy and water independence and buying habitat to compensate for the building's footprint.
When it's completed, the 4,500-square-foot Kenton building will have nine units, two shared kitchens and living rooms, plus private baths, pantries and mini-refrigerators.
The setup will help meet the net-zero-energy equation -- and foster cooperation, says Peter Wilcox, who will own the building and who is president of Renewal Associates, the project's developer.
"The real interesting story will be the story of the first year and the year to follow, how the residents learn to live in a truly sustainable building in a truly sustainable way," Wilcox says.
Each resident will be limited to 18 gallons of water a day. That's no more than a five-minute shower, five uses of the bathroom sink for 15 seconds, four uses of the kitchen sink for a minute and five toilet flushes.
In fact, plans call for not using a drop of tap water aside from an initial fill of a cistern. Residents also won't use the city sewer system -- that is, if they live according to plan and if state and city officials give them permits.
Other features include a rooftop solar-power system, an onsite dry cleaner that uses sand instead of toxic chemicals and other low-tech innovations such as a basement clothesline. Rents, Wilcox says, will run about $625 a month. The forest where waste will be spread hasn't been chosen yet, he says. Stacy Stebbins and her boyfriend, Liam Madigan, contacted Wilcox to be considered as renters. Stebbins says they already live in an environmentally conscious way, though monitoring every turn of the tap would step it up a notch.
"The challenge itself makes it intriguing and interesting to us," Stebbins says. "We partly want to do it to show people that it's not that hard. You don't have to change your daily activities; you just have to pay more attention to them."
Still, they know they aren't there yet. The pair will time their water use and monitor their electric bills in coming months. "We're up to the challenge," Stebbins says.
A handful of Portlanders already drink filtered rainwater, but granting the right to a multifamily building will need the approval of state regulators.
Developers also plan to reuse "gray water" -- from the washing machine and household sinks and tubs -- to flush the toilet and irrigate the garden, something else that would require state approval, possibly legislation.
Eco-friendly building materials will, of course, be used to the fullest, much more so than Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, a nationally accepted benchmark for green buildings.
"It's not a question of if everyone can live this way," Wilcox says. "It's a question of when. We're going to have to."
Portland News: 503-221-8199; email@example.com
Dec 20, 2007, 4:36 PM
Eco-friendly PSU plans to hire 'green' professors
Academia - Half of a $2 million boost in funding will pay for the new faculty
Thursday, December 20, 2007
GAIL KINSEY HILL
Portland State University plans to hire as many as 10 professors with expertise in sustainability as it seeks to deepen the institution's -- and the city's -- reputation as a center for eco-friendly practices and research.
The hires represent the first major additions to the tenured and tenure-track faculty roster in decades. They come courtesy of the state Legislature, which last session increased appropriations to the higher education system, and will be positioned throughout several academic departments.
"This is our first opportunity to make a significant investment in our faculty," said university Provost Roy Koch. "We wanted to identify one area, and this seemed like the obvious one."
Sustainability can be a free-wheeling term, sometimes abused by businesses and organizations seeking an edge in a world full of environmental problems. Even academia struggles with a concise definition, but, in general, the discipline assesses the environmental, economic and social impacts of human activity on the long-term survival of the planet. The undisciplined shorthand for sustainability is often "green."
PSU already is known for programs that grapple with sustainability issues, such as its urban studies curriculum and its Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices. The beefed-up faculty would allow the university to spread sustainability studies into more departments and to expand the center's research.
"It's a core strength we want to build on," Koch said.
PSU has about 25,000 students and 1,260 teaching faculty. Twenty to 30 professors are involved in "various facets of sustainability," Koch said.
The new hires probably will teach a broad range of classes, from economics to biology to art. Their expertise will come together at the sustainability center, which emphasizes in-depth research on topics such as mass transit, building design and water management, Koch said.
The additional staff and research will take the university "to a more robust level," said Jennifer Allen, the sustainability center's associate director.
PSU will better define job descriptions in the weeks ahead. The additional professors will start showing up on campus next fall.
One of the new hires probably will fill the top spot at the sustainability center. When David Ervin, the center's director and a professor of environmental studies, returns from a sabbatical next summer, he will hand over the center's reins to another.
The money for the additional faculty comes from an extra $10 million the Legislature put into the higher education's two-year budget specifically for faculty recruitment and retention.
PSU's share is $2 million. It will use half of that amount for the sustainability positions and the rest for more general hires, Koch said.
PSU calls itself an "urban university" and boasts close ties to the surrounding community. The stronger emphasis on sustainability is "a continuation of that commitment," said Ethan Seltzer, a professor of urban studies and planning known nationally for his work in sustainable practices.
In fact, Portland is considered one of the top cities for eco-friendly activities given an enthusiasm for the likes of light rail, biofuels and green building design.
PSU's hiring initiative "is an effort not just to recognize what we have going on here, but to ensure the critical nature of what we're doing is recognized nationally," Seltzer said.
Numerous cities and universities in the country boast of sustainability credentials. Ervin said the PSU center is among the most comprehensive because it integrates environmental, economic and social considerations into sustainability analyses and combines research with on-the-ground projects.
"We believe the concept behind the Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices is very rare, if not unique among U.S. universities," he said.
Gail Kinsey Hill: 503-221-8590, firstname.lastname@example.org For environment news, go to http://blog.oregonlive.com/pdxgreen
Jan 10, 2008, 8:37 PM
Buyers are demanding homes that leave smaller energy footprints, and developers are paying heed
Thursday, January 10, 2008
As homebuilder Randy Sebastian thumbed through the official guide to the 1993 Street of Dreams recently, taking his own stroll down memory lane, he came across an item that made his jaw drop.
"It referenced green building practices," said Sebastian, founder of Renaissance Development, whose local projects include developments in the Cedar Mill and Cooper Mountain areas. "I had no idea the term has been around that long."
But what was in its faddish infancy nearly 15 years ago is now geared for prime time.
Led by Sebastian, Legend Homes of Tigard, Arbor Custom Homes of Beaverton and other industry innovators, the compendium of construction techniques and materials huddled under the green building umbrella is finally starting to unfurl.
"Notions that houses should be efficient, environmentally friendly and built on principles of sustainability are really gaining traction," said Sebastian, who estimated that fully 80 percent of his buyers today care passionately about how green their new home is. "And it's absolutely clear that things are going to continue in that direction."
Some crucial underpinnings of the residential construction industry -- most notably lenders, insurers and appraisers -- have yet to catch up with consumer demand when it comes to green construction.
But with the creeping advent of so-called green mortgages, along with early indications that appraisers are increasingly paying attention to what's taking shape on the ground, many industry analysts say it's only a matter of time before the move toward green construction remakes the entire residential landscape.
Already, seminars on green building are among the most popular offerings of the Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Portland, an industry advocate based in Lake Oswego. Dozens of area builders have taken the opportunity to gain familiarity with varying levels of green-building certification.
Real estate agents, too, are grasping the need to be on top of the trend. In February, the Regional Multiple Listing Service, the region's most authoritative source of information on homes sales, incorporated the leading green-building programs into its searchable database of listings.
In addition, nearly 300 real estate agents, one of whom traveled last week from Maryland just for the course, have graduated from a two-day green-building seminar Earth Advantage offers. The Tigard nonprofit agency now serves as the primary certifier of green-building programs for a seven-state area.
"We're not to a fully sustainable home yet," said Randy Hansell, Earth Advantage's senior green building consultant. "That's still quite a ways away. But we're moving closer and closer to it. What we know for sure is that you're going to see a dramatic shift in the way we live and build in the next 10 to 15 years."
It's easy being green
New standards for the building industry mirror packages offered by pioneering builders in that both have varying shades of green. Levels of certification range from the federal government's Energy Star program, which delves into energy-efficiency designs, heating/cooling systems and high-grade appliances, all the way to the LEED for Homes Gold Standard.
Attaining the latter requires accumulating points outlined in a thick three-ring binder. The Portland area has only one LEED (the acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Standard-certified stand-alone residence -- designed, owned and occupied by architects Brian and Melody Emerick.
"We wanted to delve into green on the deepest level," said Brian Emerick, talking about the couple's recently completed house on forested property in Southwest Portland. "It turned out to be a very exciting experience."
Factors contributing to the gold rating included everything from "holistic" considerations -- such as limiting developed areas to 5,000 square feet of the 45,000-square-foot lot and catching all roof run-off water in an on-property bioswale -- to nuts-and-bolts items: high-efficiency windows, furnace and appliances; low-flow shower heads and toilets; kiln-dried lumber to reduce moisture levels in wood; and wider-placed studs that cut the total amount of wood in the house by 10 percent. About 80 percent of the construction waste was recycled.
Emerick said the couple haven't lived in the house long enough to calculate how much money those combined measures are saving.
"But I can tell you that it's considerably easier to heat than the 1910 house we moved out of," he said, laughing. "Now, when the wind blows, it doesn't suck all the heat out."
At the emerging Villebois residential development in western Wilsonville, a pronounced green streak is credited with persuading the nation's top food and fitness magazine to build its 2008 "FitHouse" in Oregon for the first time.
Arbor Custom Homes is building the two-story, 3,800-square-foot house, which will be open for public tours for three months beginning in June. After that, it will be sold, like the other Earth Advantage-certified houses Arbor is building at Villebois, to a private buyer.
Brad Hosmar, Arbor's product development director, said going green does, indeed, save money. A family of four, for instance, can save as many as 80 gallons of water daily simply by using low-flow shower heads. High-efficiency appliances and heating/cooling systems could save upwards of $400 annually.
But the real push behind green these days isn't so much monetary, he said, as it is consumer demand.
"People appreciate recouping their initial investment," Hosmar said. "But they also enjoy having a healthier indoor living situation and doing something respectful of the environment."
Jim Chapman, president of Legend Homes and Matrix Development, is finding the same thing at his company's developments, all of which are now built to Earth Advantage green standards.
"It's definitely becoming market-driven," he said. "Buyers hear about green-building standards and they ask about it. If a builder doesn't know what they are talking about, they're going to leave."
Still unclear is how much the other players in the home-building industry will recognize all that budding greenery.
The notion of green mortgages, for example, has barely made a dent in the $10 trillion U.S. mortgage industry. The idea is that lenders would knock off a quarter-point or so from a standard 30-year mortgage out of recognition of a structure's energy efficiency and durability.
Jonathan Logan, founder of Better World Mortgage in Portland, said there are only a few pilot programs, run by lenders and aimed only in part at houses that are decidedly green.
"Lenders haven't caught up as much as one would hope," he said. "But Portland is really the center of the country, along with Colorado and California, for green building. If it's going to be done, it's probably going to be done here."
Signs of change, though slow, may be on the horizon. Kimberly Allen, senior escrow office in Ticor Title's Hollywood office in Portland, closed a Veterans Administration loan recently that authorized an additional $6,000 in the lending limit if the buyers agreed to install energy-efficient appliances and new heating and cooling systems.
"Practices still aren't where we would like to see them," Allen said, "but we're definitely moving forward."
It may simply take time to establish a track record before green construction translates into real-world calculations such as appraisals, said Victor Wandtke, of Accurate Appraisal Service in Portland.
"The green trend is new enough that there aren't enough sales out there to really get in and see what happens as far as value," he said. "A lot of people still won't recognize the value of various green amenities the way they would a new kitchen or bathroom. The truth is that people can be liberal all the way around, but still very conservative in buying a house."
He added, "When we have eight to 10 of them sold in different ways -- new construction, resales -- we'll get a better feel for what it is. But right now, it's kind of a newbie."
Green building practices were considered novel 15 years ago as well, Renaissance Development's Sebastian pointed out.
"And if you think a lot has changed since then," he said, "just wait a few years."
Dana Tims: 503-294-5973; email@example.com
Feb 14, 2008, 3:06 AM
Portland steers its money to cleanup of small-scale messes
Portland Business Journal - by Sean Meyers Special to the Business Journal
The city of Portland is throwing out the welcome mat to potential brownfield developers.
In 1997, it became one of 16 cities in the country to get ongoing federal funding for brownfield recovery.
Portland brownfields fall into three general classifications, says Clark Henry, director of the city's brownfields program.
The first is South Waterfront and other industrial land that can be converted to condos or other potentially high-value uses. Those brownfield projects can generate a good profit and attract developers willing to absorb cleanup costs, he says.
The second brownfield classification is industrial land that will remain industrial land, limiting profit potential.
"A lot of that is in the 400-acre [Portland Harbor] Superfund site, which carries a stigma with it. We're working to reduce that stigma," says Henry.
The third classification is the hodgepodge of smaller brownfields spread throughout the city, often prime locations in heavily traveled commercial corridors.
"These are old filling stations, Laundromats, small metal fabrication shops. They typically have small footprints, from 5,000 to 40,000 square feet," Henry says.
These smaller plots are less likely to attract a well-heeled developer unless several adjacent parcels can be packaged, he says.
"If you can make the same profit margin off a $20 million project as you do a $2 million project, why bother with the $2 million project?" Henry says.
Accordingly, the city directs its funds to projects that can't otherwise get done.
Portland is committed to getting brownfields back in service. In a city with tight land-use boundaries, such sites become significant development options.
Brownfields are disproportionately located in low-income areas, and the city has an ethical obligation to help return the properties to a safe and useful condition, he adds.
"These sites can become anything."
firstname.lastname@example.org | 503-274-8733
Feb 15, 2008, 4:05 PM
Science mag says Portland is tops when it comes to being green
Posted by The Oregonian February 15, 2008 06:45AM
Categories: Breaking News
Portland is getting a big shout out from Popular Science for being green.
The mag crunched numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Geographic Society's Green Guide and came up with scores for 50 American cities. The PopSci folks looked at electricity use, transportation habits, "green" living, and recycling habits.
The result: Portland is tops when it comes to being green. Here's what PopSci says about P-Town:
"America's top green city has it all: Half its power comes from renewable sources, a quarter of the workforce commutes by bike, carpool or public transportation, and it has 35 buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council."
Check out the article here (http://www.popsci.com/environment/article/2008-02/americas-50-greenest-cities)
At or near the top of another magazine survey... yay us! Yeah, it's Popular Science, but still nice that they recognize! other NW cities in the top ten were Eugene (#5) and Seattle (#8).
Feb 15, 2008, 4:42 PM
From the Portland Business Journal:
Feb 16, 2008, 3:47 AM
Portland named greenest city in America
06:38 PM PST on Friday, February 15, 2008
By RANDY NEVES, for kgw.com
Portland's praises are adding up quickly.
The Park Blocks on a warm and sunny day in Portland.
In this month's Popular Science magazine Portland is called the "greenest" city in the United States.
Portland has made it onto numerous best-of lists in recent months.
The “greenest city” honor is just the latest.
The mayor says it's time to take advantage of all this attention.
“Portland is the top city in the United States to have a baby,” said Mayor potter, reading from a long list of accolades.
“Tree city USA … it's a great place for walkers … one of the top 100 (auto) fleets in the United States.
“I'm not even sure that this is all of them.”
Add best airport, best festival (the Rose Festival), top honors for travel destination, cooking and restaurants, fitness, bicycling to work, green building practices, livability, independent movie-making, clean air and recently, historic building preservation.
“That will drive tourists to town. It's an important accolade,” said Travel Portland CEO Peter Miller.
His job is to market Portland outside the city.
Miller says local businesses like Voodoo Doughnut are thriving on all the "best-of-you-name-it" attention.
“Voodoo Doughnut does 70 percent of their business on weekends from out of town visitors,” he said.
Workers confirm the frenzy.
“Yeah, they've come from all over. From England, Australia, Japan, Tennessee.
Mike Chinfoo is a tourist from Los Angeles who is eating a doughnut outside the shop.
He caught the buzz about Portland and Voodoo from media in his home city.
“I heard about it from watching the Anthony Bourdain Show,” he explained.
Mayor Potter says Portland’s need to capitalize on the buzz.
“I don't think we've played it up enough quite frankly. We should be using this as a marketing too. We should be going to companies -particularly green companies- and saying, you know, you should bring your manufacturing here.”
National media is falling for Portland and all the things that make it distinct.
As for that new "greenest city honor" Popular Science says Portland is tops in the nation because of its energy practices, transportation systems, recycling rate, and green building practices.
San Francisco was a close second place.
Eugene came in at number five.
Seattle landed at number eight on the list of 50 cities.
Mar 8, 2008, 7:29 PM
California solar company picks PDX
Investment in solar industry nears $500M
Portland Business Journal - by Wendy Culverwell Business Journal staff writer
A California company that installs solar energy systems has opened an Oregon sales office, adding another name to the fast-growing list of solar companies that have pumped more than $470 million into the Oregon economy in the past few years.
REC Solar, based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., will concentrate on marketing solar electrical systems to local businesses. It's one of the nation's largest installers of solar systems, employing 225 nationwide.
Unlike Solaicx and SolarWorld AG, two of the state's newest arrivals, REC Solar does not manufacture systems. Instead, it assembles and installs them, then maintains the systems over the long term. It serves customers of all sizes, including Costco Wholesale, which hired REC Solar to install two 680-kilowatt electrical systems in Hawaii. The installations are the state's two largest solar installations and produce enough power to supply the equivalent of 250 homes.
Andy Noel is leading the company's Oregon efforts, working from an office in the same building as the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association in Southeast Portland.
The company's decision to open an Oregon office is another sign of the state's growing reputation as a place to be in the sun-driven energy business, said Joe Reinhart, who became the trade association's executive director in February.
"It's a very positive sign," Reinhart said. "Companies are coming to Oregon."
Angiolo Laviziano, REC Solar's CEO, said Oregon's tax incentives made it natural for the company to establish a sales office in Portland. Its offices tend to be in states with policies that encourage solar electrification, such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii and New Jersey.
Last year, the state increased the Business Energy Tax Credit up to 50 percent of the cost of a system, while federal tax credits cover another 30 percent of the cost. The Energy Trust of Oregon has a cash rebate program that rebates up to $125,000 for Portland General Electric customers and $100,000 for customers of PacifiCorp.
Together, the various incentives cover up to 95 percent of the cost to install a solar system.
"It pencils out economically," Laviziano said.
REC Solar assembles components manufactured by a number of suppliers and could become a customer for two of Oregon's newest manufacturers.
SolarWorld AG, based in Germany, is converting the former Komatsu facility in Hillsboro into a manufacturing campus for its solar wafer operations. It plans to invest nearly $400 million in the project.
Solaicx, which makes ingots and wafers for solar panels, has also established a plant in Portland.
Vancouver-based Columbia Energy Partners also announced plans this week to build a $20 million facility in Eastern Oregon.
Peak Sun also announced an $18 million investment in a new solar manufacturing plant in Millersburg in November. The plant will employ 50 at first, and could grow to employ 500.
Xsunx Inc., based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., wants to locate a solar module plant in Portland area. The company wants to invest around $21 million, putting recent investments in the state's solar industry near $500 million.
REC Solar Inc. is privately funded by its parent, Mainstream Energy LLC.
The company specializes in systems which connect to the public power grid. That's a critical distinction because it eliminates the need for costly battery systems.
The amount of power a solar system can generate varies. Costco hopes to generate 30 percent to 50 percent of the power it needs with solar systems.
email@example.com | 503-219-3415
Mar 8, 2008, 7:30 PM
Green data, green growth
EasyStreet's new green data center a sign of things to come
Portland Business Journal - by Aliza Earnshaw Business Journal staff writer
A new green data center for EasyStreet Online Services Inc. could highlight the state and Portland region as a center for a growing technology trend.
EasyStreet has been working for months on a design for its new, 10,000-square-foot energy-efficient data center. Its partners on the project include a host of heavyweights, including Intel Corp., Energy Trust of Oregon, Portland General Electric, the federal and state departments of energy, IDC Architects and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Their involvement indicates the growing importance of data center technologies designed to increase computing power while conserving energy.
EasyStreet's new data center will more than double the Portland company's current footprint and will cost between $5 million and $6 million, said company President Rich Bader -- an amount equivalent to all of EasyStreet's prior capital investments. Bader and co-founder John Beaston expect to move customers' computers into the new space before the end of the year.
The new data center could draw attention to Oregon by highlighting the state's progressive energy policies and available tax credits, said Glenn Montgomery, sustainable development liaison for the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department.
"It will send a strong message that both the public and the private sector here are serious about energy," said Montgomery. "As for recruitment [of companies to Oregon], if we show we have the right formula, we can be a magnet for data centers, just as we've attracted solar companies."
EasyStreet, founded almost 13 years ago, grew 25 percent last year to $7 million in revenue. The company, which provides both Internet connections and data management services, has about 40 employees at its Beaverton offices and current data center. The new data center will be in an existing building across the street.
Data centers, also called "server farms," are rooms filled with racks of computer servers that store, manage, manipulate and swap information continuously. They use vast amounts of electricity, both to power computers and to cool them off and control humidity.
That's why EasyStreet, which was already buying renewable power for its existing 6,000-square-foot data center, decided to build the most energy-efficient new data center possible. The company projects energy savings of at least 25 percent in the new data center, compared to what it uses now.
EasyStreet went looking for energy-related financing from the state, and is now exploring a host of options with Energy Trust of Oregon and the state Energy Department, including energy tax credits; long-term, low-interest loans; and other incentives.
Oregon's Legislature passed a package of new energy incentives in 2007, including an increase in the business energy tax credit from 35 to 50 percent for renewable projects. Conservation projects like EasyStreet's qualify for a 35 percent tax credit, based on the costs of putting in energy-efficient equipment.
EasyStreet's project quickly attracted a team of experts who see it as a chance to learn more about energy efficiency in computing. Bader contacted Lorie Wigle, who was recently named general manager of Intel's eco-technology programs. Wigle worked for Bader years ago when he was a manager at Intel.
"I told her we wanted our green data center to be a showcase," Bader said. "Lorie said she was looking for showcase projects that involve data centers."
Intel had already been looking for such a project in California, where the company is headquartered.
"We had a perception that California was further along with energy incentives," Wigle said.
The chance to work in a state with strong energy policies is a key part of why Intel is investing time and effort in a demonstration project. By learning how energy incentives work, Intel can help companies looking to upgrade to more energy-efficient computers find the incentives to make these purchases more affordable.
For years, Intel has been making successive generations of increasingly energy-efficient processors for server, desktop and portable computers.
The fact that EasyStreet will use both its new data center and old one means that Intel will be able to work with a living laboratory to track how different technologies affect energy consumption. That's important for establishing standards and measurements for energy efficiency in computing, and for Intel's ongoing product development.
The fact that EasyStreet is a stand-alone business, rather than a "captive" data center that's part of a big company, makes the project even more attractive.
"Every data center manager has to feel like what they do has real ROI [return on investment]," Wigle said. "I actually think it gives us a greater discipline in the project that will be useful to captive data centers, too."
State incentives give project a helping hand
EasyStreet Online Services Inc.'s plans for a new, energy-efficient data center signal what many experts regard as the next big wave of computing technology.
Data centers store, manage, manipulate and transmit the ever-growing amounts of information involved in transacting business today. Moving that data efficiently and addressing the ever-growing energy needs of computing are big concerns.
EasyStreet's new data center offers a great opportunity to learn how to design an energy-efficient data center from the ground up, said Greg Stiles, senior business sector manager at Energy Trust of Oregon.
"This is the first data center project we've been involved in," said Stiles.
Energy Trust of Oregon helps customers of investor-owned utilities analyze proposed projects for their energy efficiency. The agency paid for a $30,000 analysis of EasyStreet's plans for the 10,000-square-foot data center it will start building next month in Beaverton.
EasyStreet isn't the only company in Oregon looking to build or expand a data center using energy incentives available from the state. But it has gone furthest and taken the most comprehensive approach, said Evan Elias, technology lead for the Business Energy Tax Credit at the state Energy Department.
"These guys have looked at all areas of energy efficiency, and are designing their data center to be the shining example," said Elias.
EasyStreet's design includes choosing the most efficient server computers available, and designing computer placement to maximize airflow; choosing and locating the most efficient cooling equipment for the data center; and employing cutting-edge software to manage the computers, making the best use of each one.
Energy Trust of Oregon will continue to monitor EasyStreet's new data center once it's up and running, and will publish data on how well it performs, said Stiles. The existing data center will continue operating across the street, providing an ongoing benchmark for energy use and computing performance.
"You couldn't hope for a better test case," said Stiles.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 503-219-3433
Apr 13, 2008, 3:06 AM
Chinese company to sell electric cars
Automaker to visit Portland to promote plans
Portland Business Journal - by Erik Siemers Business Journal staff writer
A Chinese automaker with plans to sell an all-electric sedan will visit Portland early next week with an eye on doing big business in the region.
Three executives with BYD Auto Co. of Shenzhen, China, will meet with various groups during a three-day trip starting Monday. The trip includes meetings with the Port of Portland, area auto dealerships, and representatives from Mayor Tom Potter's office, according to Jin Lan, who promotes relationships with Chinese companies through his Vancouver consulting firm, Octaxias Co.
"This is an excellent opportunity we bring to the city of Portland," Lan said. "We want to bring the best of China to the market."
BYD Auto is a subsidiary of BYD Co., the world's biggest maker of mobile-phone batteries. BYD broadened into automaking in 2003, when it bought Shaanxi Qinchuan Auto Co., according to the company's Web site.
Company officials said during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January that BYD plans to sell hybrid cars in the U.S. by 2010.
While BYD also produces hybrid and gas-fueled models, it's the company's all-electric initiatives -- such as its F3e sedan -- that piqued the interest of Lan.
Beginning Monday, Lan and his partner in recruiting BYD, Merle Greenstein, chairman of Tualatin-based International Development Association, will play host to three BYD officials: Paul Lin, marketing manager; David Zhou, regional manager; and Kingkaid Hu, sales assistant.
BYD did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.
Lan said they plan to speak with port officials about importing cars through the Columbia River channel. Greenstein said he has also arranged meetings with local auto dealers -- the names of which he declined to disclose -- about potentially becoming the company's first retailers in the United States.
"They want to find an area to test on 50 cars," Greenstein said. "I sat down with them and convinced them the best place to do this is Portland, Oregon."
There's evidence to support that notion.
The auto-shopping Web site Cars.com on Wednesday released its "Green Index" ranking the top markets for hybrid-fuel vehicles. Portland ranked second. Nearly 4.8 percent of all new car searches on the site were for hybrids, coming in behind San Francisco's 5.6 percent.
The city's first "earth friendly vehicle" dealership, EcoMotion, opened in September on Sandy Boulevard. The company has sold 308 vehicles -- about 60 of which were all-electric, said Steve Scharer, EcoMotion's general manager.
"The market's going to be huge when we get a freeway speed, four-wheeled vehicle," said Scharer, whose electric models now reach about 35 mph.
Greenstein said BYD's electric car -- which he and Lan have test-driven -- can reach the 60-70 mph range.
Tim Kutscha is co-chairman of the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association, a roughly 400-member group of mostly hobbyists who have converted their own cars into electric vehicles. He said the Portland area is willing to accept electric cars, perhaps more than other parts of the country.
"I think Portland has this sense of community and wanting to make the world a better place," Kutscha said.
The city already has an early-start on the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles. Portland General Electric hosts an electric-car charging station outside its offices at the Portland World Trade Center. The OEVA lists three others across the city on its Web site.
Steve Corson, a PGE spokesman, said the electric utility has been invited to meet with the BYD officials next week to discuss charging stations.
"It's certainly an issue we're interested in and something we've been talking about both at the state level and city level," Corson said.
Josh Thomas, a port spokesman, said port officials will meet with BYD. The port already has a robust auto import business: Its three auto import facilities handled nearly 450,000 autos in 2007. Each vehicle brings an estimated $318 economic impact to the region.
Mila Greisen, the director of international affairs for Mayor Tom Potter, said city officials have scheduled a meet-and-greet with BYD on Wednesday. The city is interested in discussing adding electric vehicles to its fleet, she said.
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Apr 13, 2008, 4:10 AM
SolarWorld plant expected to attract energy companies
The Portland-area silicon wafer production facility will be the largest in the U.S. when it’s completed
POSTED: 06:00 AM PDT Friday, April 11, 2008
BY LIBBY TUCKER
SolarWorld is nearly finished retrofitting an old semiconductor plant in Hillsboro to become the nation’s largest producer of photovoltaic cells. And the Germany-based solar silicon wafer manufacturer plans to start moving its Vancouver, Wash., operations to its new Oregon facility this summer.
The transformation of the former Komatsu facility at 25300 N.W. Evergreen Road parallels the shift of Oregon’s “silicon forest” economy into renewable-energy mode.
“We’re well on our way to the same level of manufacturing that semiconductors are in Oregon right now,” Joseph Reinhart, executive director of the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association, said.
Twenty years from now, policymakers will see SolarWorld’s new plant in the same way that they now look back on Intel’s role in boosting computer chip manufacturing, Reinhart said.
The results are already visible. The fine layer of dust covering every surface of SolarWorld’s under-construction solar silicon wafer plant would have never been seen near Komatsu’s operations, Gordon Brinser, SolarWorld’s vice president of operations, said Thursday on a site tour.
Even a particle of dust would ruin the silicon semiconductors destined for computer processors. Solar silicon production is a little more generous in its standards, said Brinser.
The two industries rely on the same raw material, silicon “rock” purified from sand. And both undergo a high-tech process of refining the rock into almost paper-thin wafers.
But “this is completely different from the Komatsu plant when I was here last,” Christopher Dymond, a senior energy analyst with the Oregon Department of Energy, said.
Traveling down the facility’s more than quarter-mile long production chain, the silicon will be molded into 10-foot-long crystalline blocks, sliced and treated in halls the size of hangars.
The end result will be 5-by-5-inch solar cells that will end up shipped to California, Europe or South Korea, placed into a module of 72 cells strung together with aluminum and sold as solar panels to solar installation companies.
At its full capacity 100,000 cells will reach the end of the line every day in SolarWorld’s plant, totaling 100 Megawatts of electrical production per year – enough to power about 300,000 homes.
Most of the demand for the company’s solar panels still comes from Europe, however, which was quicker to adopt solar technology than the United States has been, Brinser said.
“We’d like to see the solar panels stay here in the U.S.,” he said.
The high-tech facility will serve as a magnet to other European companies in the solar industry looking to get a start in the United States, Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes said. And it will help turn the region into a hub of related trades including solar installers, engineers and consultants in the solar industry, he said.
SolarWorld expects to start silicon wafer production by mid-summer and will begin shipping solar cells by the end of the summer. Construction on the first phase of the retrofit is set for completion in October. And the company plans two more phases of construction, bringing total production to 500 Megawatts of photovoltaic cells each year.
Apr 19, 2008, 1:54 AM
Rainy Oregon attracts solar companies
20 show interest at trade show
Portland Business Journal - by Erik Siemers Business Journal staff writer
Evidence of Oregon's potential for luring solar manufacturers surfaced earlier this month at a photovoltaic trade show in Germany.
Officials from the state, joined by a Hillsboro contingent, traveled to Europe in hopes of attracting new business. They found a host of solar industry suppliers and equipment manufacturers eager to break into the fast-rising American solar market. About 20 companies expressed some interest in Oregon.
"We were the only American state represented at the show," said Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes. "It was like the Beaverton Bakery on Easter Saturday and we were down to the last bundt cake."
Now, as Portland plays host this weekend to its own solar trade show -- the Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association's third annual Northwest Solar Expo -- the state finds itself poised to add to its growing solar manufacturing cluster. That could mean luring more manufacturers as well as suppliers to companies like Germany-based SolarWorld AG, which is retrofitting an unused 480,000-square-foot semiconductor plant in Hillsboro.
"The state of Oregon is going to be the center for solar manufacturing in the U.S.," said Chris Robertson, vice president of public affairs for Peak Sun Silicon, a start-up that plans to invest $700 million over the next five years in a Millersburg plant making electronic-grade silicon for the solar industry.
Local officials believe the solar manufacturing boom is comparable to the '70s, when Intel Corp. chose Hillsboro for its first semiconductor manufacturing plant outside of California. The move sparked a domino effect of Intel suppliers moving into the area.
Hughes went to Munich figuring suppliers for the massive SolarWorld site might need coaxing.
"We were very successful on the first day of reaching the list of SolarWorld suppliers we compiled," he said. "On the second day of the show, several of the manufacturers had heard we were at the show and began to come over and get information. A lot of the European companies in particular are looking at establishing an American presence."
The end result was about 20 companies with interest in Oregon. Most of the interest comes from SolarWorld suppliers, but at least five want to "drop by and kick the tires on what land we may have available" in the next four or five weeks, Hughes said.
Mike Grainey, director of the Oregon Department of Energy, who was also on the Munich trip, said those five companies wouldn't likely compete, but would manufacture various elements of the photovoltaic supply chain.
Oregon, however, isn't alone in seeking the biggest chunk of an increasingly competitive solar market. Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Michigan are among the list of states heavily recruiting solar manufacturers.
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords refers to her Southern Arizona district as the "Solar-con Valley."
"This is all about competition. There is widespread agreement that solar is the next great high-tech growth industry in the United States," said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Washington D.C.-based trade group. "I think the challenge for communities is that the word is out, that solar jobs are coming and they need to step up in order to attract these companies."
The United States is the fourth-leading nation in annual installation of photovoltaic systems, behind Germany, Spain and Japan, Resch said. But the U.S. market has been growing by about 40 percent over the past six years, providing the potential to be the world's largest photovoltaic market in the next few years.
That makes the United States an attractive market for foreign manufacturers, a notion bolstered by the weak dollar.
Oregon already has five solar equipment manufacturing companies: Peak Sun Silicon, SolarWorld, Solaicx Inc., Mr. Sun Solar Enterprises and PV Powered Inc. A sixth company, XSunX Inc., an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based designer of solar cells and manufacturing systems, earlier this month chose a Wood Village site for its first manufacturing site.
Much of the interest in the state is drawn from Oregon's business energy tax credit, which covers up to 50 percent of the cost of a project. Resch said Oregon has other competitive advantages, such as low-cost hydropower; the state's proximity to California, now the country's biggest market for photovoltaics; and a semiconductor manufacturing work force that can easily transition into solar cell manufacturing.
The state's incentives have earned plaudits from companies and investors.
"What Oregon has done, I think, is remarkable for drawing solar manufacturing," said Ed Sproull, the senior vice president of energy at the New York branch of HSH Nordbank AG. "It is my impression that Oregon is substantially ahead of other states."
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Apr 26, 2008, 1:03 AM
Friday, April 25, 2008
World class sustainability
Leaders envision World Sustainability Center in Portland
Portland Business Journal - by Andy Giegerich Business Journal staff writer
As part of a push to become the nation's sustainability capital, Portland city officials want to create a first-class World Sustainability Center.
The center could house research and development facilities, the city's sustainability programs, green businesses and nonprofits, and academic offerings.
Initial estimates for the proposed World Sustainability Center, which would likely be sited in or near downtown Portland, fall between $6 million and $16 million for a new building. Some money for the project, which could also occupy a rehabilitated structure, could come from taxpayers.
City commissioners Dan Saltzman, who oversees the city's Office of Sustainable Development, and Sam Adams have convened a group of business, government and education leaders to devise ideas for the center.
The group, which held its first meeting April 15, is mulling several options, including erecting or rehabilitating more than one building and creating a "sustainability campus."
Saltzman believes the investment would eventually pay for itself by attracting more sustainable industries to Portland.
"It's certainly part of our branding efforts to distinguish ourselves as being at the top of the pack," he said. "It would give people coming here a place where they can see what we're all about, as well as give businesses a place where they can share information with each other."
Space wise, the facility could require as little as 20,000 square feet, which would provide room for researchers, and an additional 500,000 square feet, which would accommodate a broad range of programs, said Tom Osdoba, an economic development manager with the city's Office of Sustainable Development.
Likely candidates for the center include downtown, near the Pearl District's Ecotrust: Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center building, or near Portland State University.
Such spaces aren't cheap. New buildings in downtown typically cost about $325 per square foot to build, said Clayton Hering, president of Portland's Norris Beggs & Simpson Companies.
The group has already asked the Oregon Innovation Council, which recommends economic development projects for state funding, for an undetermined amount of seed money. The Innovation Council is preparing proposals for the 2009 Legislature and will consider the request on May 12.
The concept may be a tough sell. The state expects a revenue drop during the next biennium, said Courtney Warner, a spokeswoman for the Innovation Council.
Other funding options include the Portland Development Commission's Quality Jobs Program, a low-interest loan offering, and the Economic Opportunity Fund, which combines low-interest loans with grants. Rents from the building's tenants could help repay the loans. A foundation or nonprofit could also be formed to oversee the center.
The center could also receive city and state economic development funds, Osdoba said.
While a new building or campus would take at least two years to build, supporters hope to establish a temporary World Sustainability Center in an existing 20,000- to 30,000-square-foot structure.
Osdoba said the center could further galvanize an industry that currently moves in several directions.
"This center is a chance to differentiate ourselves from other cities, and the window is closing quickly," he said. "So we have to think big and move fast."
The as-yet unnamed group working on the project includes Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, Metro Council Chairman David Bragdon and Bruce Warner, the Portland Development Commission's executive director.
Business community participants include Gerding Edlen Development Co. Principal Mark Edlen and Oregon Innovation Council Chairman David Chen.
Lisa Libby and Kimberly Schneider, aides to Adams who are working on the project, said a temporary center could emerge within the next few months.
Colin Sears, the PDC project manager who's leading the agency's center development team, said supporters should view the failed creative services center as an object lesson.
PDC had hoped the creative services facility, in a Northwest Fifth Avenue building, would attract innovative businesses earlier this decade.
Yet prospective tenants couldn't afford the downtown rents. PDC itself eventually moved into the center in 2004.
"We have to learn from our mistakes in the past, like with the Creative Services Center," Sears said. "I think this industry has a lot more depth and the timing is much better for it, but certainly, it has to be much more than just a space or a building or initiative. We need to be careful on how we charge ahead with it."
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Apr 26, 2008, 1:20 AM
PGE renews top renewable ranking
Portland General Electric for the third straight year has sold more renewable power to residential customers than any other utility in the country, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
PGE residential customers bought nearly 445 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy in 2007, a 29 percent increase over 2006, the utility said in a news release.
PGE ranked second in the nation for total number of renewable energy customers, with 61,543, behind Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, according to the NREL rankings.
The utility also ranked second for the total renewable kilowatt hours sold to residential and commercial customers combined. Its nearly 554 million kwh sold put PGE within less than five percent of first place Austin Energy of Austin, Texas.
It ranked fourth for total percentage of customers who purchased renewable power, with 8.5 percent. The City of Palo Alto Utilities in California ranked first, with 20.4 percent, according to the rankings.
The NREL, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, is the nation's principal laboratory for renewable energy research and development.
Apr 26, 2008, 6:09 AM
The sustainability center is a cool idea. What if they used part of the post office building being vacated.
May 10, 2008, 2:05 AM
Solar firm seeks $10M
Funding will make PV Powered one of Oregon's major players
Portland Business Journal - by Erik Siemers Business Journal staff writer
Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal
A Bend company that makes key components for commercial and residential solar units wants to raise $10 million in venture capital. If successful, the company would quickly become one of the biggest names in the state's upstart solar industry.
Analysts say the company shouldn't have a problem raising the cash, despite predictions the industry could face a turbulent year if a critical federal tax credit expires.
Until now, PV Powered has been financed by a loyal group of 40 so-called "angel" investors limited by their own personal net worth, said CEO Gregg Patterson.
"It's a huge milestone to get to the point where we have active suitors interested in investing in us," Patterson said. "The money we're trying to raise now is about giving us the working capital to continue to develop and build out our commercial and utility property lines, scale our manufacturing, and start the process of developing the overseas products necessary to go after both Europe and Asia."
PV Powered manufactures solar inverters for photovoltaic systems. Inverters convert the direct current electricity generated by photovoltaic arrays into the alternating current electricity used in homes and businesses.
Patterson declined to provide revenue figures for the company, but ReferenceUSA, a division of Omaha, Neb.-based database service InfoUSA Inc., estimates the company has annual sales between $10 million and $20 million.
Patterson said the company has averaged 50 percent growth per year. It's risen from about 20 employees two years ago to 60 today. It could reach 100 by early next year. Nearly all of its employees are in Bend, minus a few remote sales and service employees in California and on the East Coast.
The company is in the process of moving into a new 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Bend that was once home to a wood-products manufacturer -- a symbolic shift from old industry into an emerging clean-technology economy.
In the past year, PV Powered has expanded its product line and received certifications for 10 new inverters.
A successful venture round would boost the company even further and make it one of the state's signature solar companies, joining Germany-based Solarworld AG and Santa Clara, Calif.-based Solaicx, two photovoltaic manufacturing firms that have both brought manufacturing plants to the Portland area.
PV Powered has focused principally on creating inverters for residential consumers, but it has more recently begun pushing into the commercial market at a time when giant firms like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have embarked upon plans to install solar energy systems to power giant supercenters, Patterson said.
The company has its eyes on reaching into Europe and Asia, which has a larger share of the world's solar power consumers. Patterson said the company plans to have products developed that are compatible with European and Asian power grids by the middle of next year.
"Our focus is really about how you build a durable and powerful position in the U.S. market this year and next year," he said. "Once we build that, reach that in a way we feel we can take a large market share ... then we've got to develop products suited to the power grids in each of these overseas markets."
Analysts said investors remain interested in cleantech, but there is concern over popular federal tax credit for such investments.
"Over the most recent years, VC has been flowing into these companies at an incredible rate," said Mark Bachman, an equity analyst with Portland-based Pacific Crest Securities. "It's enabled the industry to grow and reach technological innovations quicker than we've done in the past."
Clean-energy investment increased from $55 billion in 2006 to $77.3 billion in 2007, according to the latest report from Clean Edge, which has offices in Portland and San Francisco.
The solar industry is now a $20.3 billion business, according to Clean Edge, and could grow to $74 billion by 2017.
The industry is bolstered by the growing popularity of environmental consciousness across the country, from residential energy consumers to corporate boardrooms.
"Put on top of that everybody's wanting to be green, that tends to fuel the industry," Bachman said.
There is a concern the solar industry could stall later this year once federal investment tax credits that help homeowners and businesses buy photovoltaic systems expire. The credits expire in December, and Congress has yet to come up with a plan to extend the credits that passes political muster, despite bi-partisan support.
Some analysts say venture capitalists realize the market for solar industry manufacturers is largely in Europe and Asia, areas unaffected by federal subsidies. Bachman said the tax credit issue wouldn't necessarily deter an investment by venture capitalists.
Patterson believes the federal government will ultimately extend wind and solar tax credits by a year, and that the political climate will ease once a new president and Congress take office in 2009.
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May 22, 2008, 3:35 PM
Wind farm proposed near Larch Mountain
Thursday, May 22, 2008
By ERIK ROBINSON, Columbian Staff Writer
A wind energy developer wants to lease state-owned forest to build as many as 39 skyscraper-high wind turbines along a ridge near Larch Mountain in east Clark County.
The proposal, by a Portland-based subsidiary of enXco Inc., marks one of the first signs of westward migration for a wind energy boom that’s already caused windmills the size of office towers to sprout across Eastern Washington. Washington’s commissioner of public lands expects more to come.
“There are significant opportunities,” state lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland said Wednesday.
Evergreen Wind Power Partners applied for the lease on about 5,400 acres of forest land owned by Sutherland’s Department of Natural Resources. The agency is giving other potential applicants until June 9 before it begins negotiating a lease agreement with Evergreen.
“If there’s other interest, we’ll go ahead and hold a public auction,” agency spokeswoman Jane Chavey said.
A company official declined to comment on the proposal Wednesday.
The application characterizes the project as 20 to 40 megawatts, although full construction of 39 turbines described in the proposal — each rated for 1.5 megawatts — would be able to generate 58.5 megawatts. That’s roughly a tenth of the energy used in Clark County.
The windmills would loom well above the surrounding timberland, which DNR would continue to manage for forestry.
The towers themselves would be 260 feet tall, topped by tri-tipped blades that measure 150 feet from end to end. Although wind turbines benefit from a free and renewable fuel, the cost of buying the turbines and laying the necessary transmission lines drives the average cost of building a farm to as much as $1 million for every megawatt of capacity.
Green power demanded
The building boom is fueled in part by the fact that the public demands it.
Washington voters approved an initiative in 2006 requiring Clark Public Utilities and other large utilities to increase renewable energy sources to 15 percent of their supply by 2020, following step-up requirements of 3 percent in 2012 and 9 percent in 2016.
“Wind power is one of the best ways to meet that new obligation,” Sutherland said.
The two-term commissioner has been encouraging wind energy companies to take a look at state timberland as a way for the state to wring extra value from those lands while boosting the development of renewable energy.
“We think it makes good sense,” he said.
The state oversees 2.1 million acres of forest that’s supposed to be managed for the benefit of common schools, the Capitol and counties. For example, logging profits from state-owned lands pay for 25 percent to 30 percent of the state’s contribution to school construction costs.
The state has already been involved in leasing state-owned pastures for wind turbines in Eastern Washington.
However, energy generated east of the Cascades must be transmitted long distances across the already-jammed power grid to reach the bulk of the region’s population on the west side of the Cascades. Situated close to the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area, Larch Mountain has the benefit of plenty of wind pouring out of the Columbia River Gorge.
Jul 15, 2008, 4:23 AM
City makes push for more green buildings
Green building policy would establish ‘feebate’ system to reward those who meet LEED standards, penalize others
Daily Journal of Commerce
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Monday, July 14, 2008
BY SAM BENNETT
The city’s new green building policy may cost some developers more money, but it is designed to curb climate change, improve people’s health and boost the local economy, according to city officials.
The policy would establish a “feebate” system that requires developers and single-family home builders to pay extra fees if they build only to current energy code. But the program would give them money for building high-performance buildings or living buildings – which create as much energy as they use.
“We have to be more diligent in our building endeavors,” said Doug Shapiro, vice president of construction at Hoyt Street Properties. “The way to incentivize (green building) is a program like this.” His company’s new condo building, The Metropolitan, was just certified silver in U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
But Portland developer David Bloom, who specializes in in-fill development, said “all they’re doing is adding more regulation.” Bloom said he is a proponent of green building, but he feels that the city should give developers a break on systems development charges if they build to LEED standards.
Michael Armstrong, deputy director of the Office of Sustainable Development, said the green building policy would apply to private commercial and single-family residential construction in the city. The policy was initiated by Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman earlier this year.
The city council is expected to take up the issue later this year. The green building policy would be the first of its kind in the country.
During a recent presentation of the proposal to the planning commission, Armstrong said the new policy builds on the city’s existing green building standards that, to date, have affected only city projects and those that include Portland Development Commission funding. Since 2005, the city’s policy has been to meet LEED gold for all city buildings and LEED silver for PDC projects. In 2000, the city made LEED silver the minimum for its own facilities.
The feebate system would charge extra fees for buildings that do not meet LEED silver or higher standards and reward those that meet or exceed LEED gold. The fees paid by developers who do not meet high-performance standards would be paid out to those who do meet the standards. Armstrong said the standards for high-performance buildings would adhere to the LEED system, or Earth Advantage, which is a system that rates single-family homes. Armstrong said the city is still devising a system to determine the fees. “It’s still a moving target,” he said.
The feebate system would also be applied to single-family home construction. The exact fees are still being discussed, but Armstrong said that the city’s minimum goal would be that at least 35 percent of new single-family homes built in 2010 would be Earth Advantage of LEED silver certified. If the number is less than 35 percent, he said the city would use the feebate system, which could mean higher charges for developers who meet only minimum energy code standards.
Bill Jackson, who developed the soon-to-open Mississippi Avenue Lofts, said his building, in theory, would receive a feebate of $150,000 to $200,000, if the building reaches LEED gold certification. His building has 32 loft condos and retail.
“I believe there are many developers on the commercial level who would be very motivated to do this kind of development,” said Jackson. “What we would be doing is creating more jobs in the state of Oregon, enhancing our economy and reducing our carbon footprint.” He estimated the up-front costs of meeting LEED standards are 3 to 5 percent of the total construction cost.
Armstrong said Portland residents and businesses spend $1.6 billion every year on energy and $750 million is used in buildings. Eighty percent of energy used in Portland buildings is from fossil fuels. He added that Oregon imports 100 percent of its oil and natural gas, and 40 percent of the state’s electricity comes from coal.
Shapiro said developers “have to put into perspective” the up-front costs of meeting LEED standards. “We all have to put our best foot forward,” he said, regarding green building. “If we can’t exceed the minimum standards, then we’re not putting out a good product.”
Sep 25, 2008, 9:45 AM
SustainLane ranks Portland # 1 !!!
Mar 21, 2009, 3:34 AM
Friday, March 20, 2009
Miles Fiberglass chases the wind
Manufacturer eyes market for wind turbines
Portland Business Journal - by Erik Siemers Business Journal staff writer
Miles Fiberglass & Composites Inc. projects double-digit growth this year. And it’s not because the company plans to make more fenders.
The Happy Valley-based fiberglass manufacturer makes everything from RV bumpers to motorized surfboards. But company officials say their biggest growth opportunity is in a somewhat new industry.
About 35 percent of the company’s revenue last year — estimated to be between $10 million and $15 million — came from servicing wind turbine blades. The growth in that business alone could bump revenue by 50 percent this year. Its workforce of 70 — which includes 30 wind turbine technicians that work in the field repairing blades — could also double.
But perhaps more importantly, company officials have submitted bids to four European companies to make turbine housings, or nacelles. Each European company wants to find a U.S.-based manufacturer in order to tap into the fast-growing North American wind power market.
Stephen B. Garner, the company’s head of business development for wind power, said Miles has already lost one of the bids, but it only takes one to push the company forward.
It’s unknown when the company will the other contracts will be awarded.
“I’d like to think it’s just a matter of time,” said President Lori Miles-Luchak.
Even if the company doesn’t land one of the three remaining contracts, it will likely have other chances.
“It’s such a new market,” said Craig Hinkle, the company’s chief operating officer. “New opportunities arise just about daily.”
Miles has no experience making nacelles — the gigantic oblong compartments that sit atop wind towers and house a turbine’s mechanical components.
But the company believes it has the talent and, just as important, the space to handle large-scale manufacturing. The company has 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space split between locations in Happy Valley and Oregon City.
And they’re tapping into the market at the right time.
“I think every wind turbine manufacturer that’s in the U.S. market, if they don’t have a manufacturer here in North America, they’re looking at it,” said Steve Dayney, CEO of Portland-based REpower USA Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of German wind turbine manufacturer REpower Systems AG.
REpower’s products are still manufactured mostly in Europe, with some operations in China. The company has yet to pursue U.S. manufacturing.
But for many companies, “it just makes sense. Our market is so big and it’s predicted to get even bigger,” he said.
The shift to focusing on wind products comes as other composites-heavy industries struggle.
At Miles, production is down 40 percent because of Monaco Coach Corp., the Coburg-based RV maker that was once one of Miles’ biggest customers. Monaco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off the majority of its employees.
The industry has shifted its focus to growth areas such as renewable energy, mass transit and corrosion resistant products such as those used in waste water treatment.
Wind energy “is one of the few shining lights within the composites industry in terms of providing production,” said John Busel, director of a composites growth initiative at the American Composites Manufacturers Association.
In mass alone, nacelle production is a big deal to the composites industry.
“That nacelle is huge,” Busel said. “It’s like taking a Monaco Coach and putting it on top of a pole. It’s a huge box.”
Much like the rest of the industry, Miles is also focused on jobs in wastewater treatment and in mass transit. It’s already providing composite materials used in Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works’ streetcar prototype.
That work should increase.
Oregon Iron Works has been chosen to produce seven additional streetcars for Portland Streetcar Inc.’s expansion to the eastside, a project that last week received an additional $45 million from a federal spending bill. Oregon Iron Works is also a finalist for a job in Tucson, Ariz., that would yield up to seven more streetcars.
Miles is also working with Siemens Transportation Systems Inc. on composite components for light rail projects in St. Louis, Puerto Rico and Calgary.
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Mar 25, 2009, 2:02 AM
PDC releases sustainability report
Portland Development Commission looks at past work from green perspective
Daily Journal of Commerce
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Tuesday, March 24, 2009
BY TYLER GRAF
The Portland Development Commission, in its first Sustainable Development Report, makes it clear that the city is among the greenest in the country. But to maintain that reputation, the PDC says more oversight of the city’s overall development is needed.
The commission spent a year drafting the report, which resulted from the city’s directive that bureaus report on their sustainability efforts and accomplishments.
Cindy Bethell, the PDC’s sustainability manager, became her bureau’s primary report author and researcher. She said the report’s goal is to be a “teaching tool” for developers and the city, and to inventory the commission’s past sustainability efforts. The report will be presented at Wednesday’s meeting of the PDC’s board of commissioners.
The report is also intended to help guide future development throughout the city. “From my perspective, (the report) will be a good branding tool for the PDC,” Bethell said.
The report covers the PDC’s activity through the 2007-2008 fiscal year and reports on the commission’s 2007 Sustainability Plan.
According to the report, nine of the PDC’s 14 completed development projects either met or surpassed the commission’s green building policy. Bethell pointed to the White Stag Block and The Watershed at Hillsdale as projects that encapsulated the commission’s goals.
For example, the latter development – a mixed-use affordable housing complex – was built on a reclaimed brownfield site. The building’s development team, Community Partners for Affordable Housing, won the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cleanup Grant for the project.
It was the first nonprofit to do so.
“They helped advance affordable housing a lot,” Bethell said of the team members.
The report also emphasized that “sustainability” was not solely about environmental protection, but also about protecting business interests. For example, one of the PDC’s future goals is to promote sustainable economic development.
Carley Riter, government liaison for the Portland Business Alliance, questioned whether sustainability reports were necessary to progress environmentally sound business practices, saying the market was already directing developers to move in that direction.
But she said she thought the report was a good idea, especially as the PDC moves through its restructuring process.
The PDC earlier this month finished its internal restructuring. As part of the restructuring, the newly instituted Bureau of Housing will now take over the PDC’s housing duties and the commission will more strongly emphasize “economic development” within the city, according to the commission.
“Sustainability is about balancing the environment with business interests,” Riter said.
Although Bethell said she hoped the report would be used as a reference tool by both developers and Portland bureaus, she does not plan on writing one yearly. Likely, the PDC will issue a sustainability report every three years.
“We want to show that we can meet the city’s sustainability goals,” Bethell said, “and go beyond them.
Mar 28, 2009, 6:55 AM
I thought it was interesting to see an article about Portland's Heathman Hotel, in the WABC-TV website's green living section (New York City)
Great to see how 80+ year old buildings are gradually taking the steps to keep these historical buildings around another 80+ years, hopefully, and helping our planet!
Apr 4, 2009, 4:18 AM
Friday, April 3, 2009
Largest commercial wave project eyes stimulus cash
Portland Business Journal - by Erik Siemers Business Journal staff writer
A project that would give Oregon the nation’s largest commercial wave energy development is eyeing federal stimulus money to push it forward.
Ocean Power Technologies, a publicly held wave energy development firm based in Pennington, N.J., hopes to place an array of 10 buoys off the coast in Reedsport to generate 1.5 megawatts of electric capacity.
Ocean Power will look to bid for federal stimulus money from two angles.
The first is from the $42 million allocated to Oregon for the State Energy Program, which, in part, helps fund renewable energy projects.
The other is from the U.S. Department of Energy, which has about $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money for renewable energy research at its disposal.
The total costs of the project are unclear, but Ocean Power’s pitch for stimulus money indicates an investment of “tens of millions” to be spent in Oregon.
That includes contracting with Oregon companies for installation and fabrication of the buoys. Companies like Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works, for example, are among the bidders hoping to manufacture the buoys.
“What we see here is an opportunity to create jobs in Oregon,” said Herbert Nock, Ocean Power’s vice president of business development and marketing. “Whatever Oregon stimulus money went to the project would go directly to Oregon jobs.”
The wave energy array would take two to three years to develop. While it would be a source of clean energy, the development is ostensibly a research project for Oregon’s nascent wave energy industry.
The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, a federally funded research facility in Newport, hopes to use data from Ocean Power’s project to further its research.
“The national center is about evaluation,” said Robert Paasch, an associate mechanical engineering professor at Oregon State University and interim director of the center. “In order to have evaluation we’ve got to have devices in the water.”
The Newport research center, however, won’t likely be receiving federal stimulus money. Paasch said the center will get a boost in other ways.
The research budget of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy section was boosted from $10 million to $40 million for fiscal 2009. Of that, $30 million is for marine renewable energy research, Paasch said.
The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, Paasch said, stands a strong chance of securing increased research money, helping to accelerate its work testing renewable energy devices through its test berth.
Ocean Power Technologies, meanwhile, has its eyes on the next project — a potential 100 megawatt wave energy array at Coos Bay. Nock said the company is in preliminary discussions with state and local officials about the development.
“Now you’re talking about some serious power,” he said.
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Apr 29, 2010, 1:05 AM
Portland refines approach to eco-roof goal
POSTED: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 03:47 PM PT
BY: Justin Carinci
Daily Journal of Commerce
Tags: Amy Chomowicz, eco-roof, Grey to Green Initiative
Planting greenery on 43 barren acres in Portland by 2013 may not sound like such an ambitious goal - except that the acres are on rooftops.
Portland officials have a long way to go toward that goal. Since the city’s Grey to Green storm-water management program started in 2008, 66 projects have resulted in 4.7 acres of new eco-roofs, said Amy Chomowicz, eco-roof program administrator for the Bureau of Environmental Services.
Despite a $5-per-square-foot incentive the bureau offers building owners, reaching the 43-acre goal remains a challenge. But Chomowicz had an idea that is now being implemented.
Instead of paying the incentive directly to building owners, the city will hire a contracting team to find buildings suitable for eco-roofs, convince the building owners to allow them, and then design and build the roof systems. For $150,000, the contract will guarantee 30,000 square feet of eco-roofs.
That still amounts to $5 per square foot. An additional $10,000 will go toward developing and marketing the program, for a total contract of $160,000.
Proposals are due to the city by May 28.
“How the contractor chooses to use the $5 per square foot is up to them,” Chomowicz said. “We’d expect that they could go to the building owner and talk to them about doing an eco-roof and say, ‘the cost is $15 per square foot and we get $5 from the city; we’ll charge you $10 per square foot.’ ”
Projects under the contract need to be ones for which an eco-roof wasn’t already planned, Chomowicz said. For those, building owners will still be able to claim the existing credit, which is paid out twice per year.
Even with incentives, eco-roofs remain a tough sell, building owners say. Jeffrey Weitz, president of North Rim Partners, said he’s looked into eco-roofs for several projects, but they never made sense.
Existing buildings may also require reinforcement to withstand the weight of an eco-roof, Weitz said. “Once that’s done, you have to put in a brand new roofing system.
“You tear off the roof, put on a membrane system and put panels in to support it,” he said. Other costs include cleanup of debris, and replacement and tending of plants over the roof’s life.
Especially in a weak economy, owners need to weigh the benefit of adding eco-roofs against the cost, said Susan Steward, executive director of the Portland Metropolitan Building Owners and Managers Association.
Unless it’s already time to replace a roof, few building owners will consider converting to an eco-roof, Steward. “Why would any owner go through that expense and heartburn so they can disconnect from the sewer line and get a storm-water discount?” she said.
“There has to be a decent return on investment,” Steward said. “It was five years, but now it has to be two years, because of the market right now.”
Building owners want to be responsible environmental stewards, Steward said, but they gravitate toward the projects that pay off quicker. She pointed out one owner who installed water-efficient toilets, a step that paid for itself in six months.
“He got his money back and he’s saving a lot of money every month,” she said. “That’s the kind of thing people are going to go for.”
Environmental consultants say there is a market for eco-roofs, even in the current economy. Dan Manning, partner in Ecoroofs Everywhere, already does some consulting like the type envisioned in the city contract.
“I look on a map and say, ‘Wow! There’s an old building that needs a new roof,’ and talk to the owners and suggest they do an eco-roof and use the eco-roof grant as a helping tool,” Manning said.
Manning and partner Greg Haines are putting together a team to submit a proposal for the city contract. They’ve already installed 54 eco-roofs.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Manning said of the new contract. “We’d love the opportunity.”
But it’s merely a preliminary step, Manning said. “It’s not big enough. $160,000 of eco-roofs doesn’t nearly cover what they want to cover.”
Indeed, 30,000 square feet of eco-roofs would draw the city less than an acre closer to its goal. But that’s not the entire picture, Chomowicz said. She hopes the contract will help develop subcontractors’ and consultants’ skills, so they can carry the expertise to other projects.
Macdonald Environmental Planning already has large-scale eco-roof experience, said owner Laurel Macdonald Bonnell. The company plans to submit a proposal as part of a team.
The new contract could be enough to spur people on the eco-roof fence to action, Bonnell said. “We do have building owners that may be interested in putting eco-roofs on buildings but never figured out how, so this might lend the opportunity for private building owners to green their buildings.”
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