Eco Flats: net-zero apartments nearing rent-ready
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
Apartments at Eco Flats will start renting this March, the culmination of a groundbreaking project to build a multi-family building to net-zero standards.
But beyond building green, Jean-Pierre Veillet, owner of Siteworks Design Build, has plans in place to make sure the building, located at 3395 N. Williams Ave., runs at maximum efficiency even after the tenants move in.
Eco Flats is one of 15 building projects aiming toward net-zero operations through a pilot program launched in 2009 by Energy Trust of Oregon.
"It's one of the furthest along of the projects," said Becky Walker, program manager for Energy Trust's Path to Net Zero pilot. "It's one of only three multi-family projects and the only one renting to tenants."
Path to Net Zero recruits developers willing to aim for buildings that are 60 percent more efficient than Oregon building code requires.
Veillet, who had experience with LEED building and was featured in the New York Times in 2009 for his eco-friendly work on a pop-up store for Portland-based Nau, set out to build a net-zero apartment building with the idea that the less of the building there was, the more efficient it would be. The building's common areas are outside, allowing for more natural light inside the building and reducing its carbon footprint from the outset.
"The best way to save energy is to eliminate the need to consume it," Veillet said. "For thousands of years we didn't have gizmos to regulate the environment. A lot of the building is proper for the geography that we’re in."
Sitting on the North Williams bike corridor, the building trades bike storage for a parking garage. Zipcar will stage two cars at the building. The 18-unit building features an ultra-efficient heating system and will use rooftop solar panels to heat the building's water.
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