Living buildings take center stage
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
The June Key Delta Center is in the running to be Oregon's first official living building.
The fifth annual Living Future conference gets underway this week in Vancouver, B.C., shining a light on the growing reach of the Living Building Challenge, which asks architects and builders to erect structures that minimize their impact on the world around them.
With just a handful of buildings certified by the International Living Building Institute, momentum is building as more and more projects chase the designation, which requires adherence to a long list of do's and don’ts including local sourcing of materials, elimination of detrimental chemicals and net-zero energy performance.
In Oregon, the most high-profile project might be the planned Oregon Sustainability Center, which aims to be one of the first high-rise living buildings. But the June Key Delta Center in North Portland, expected to open this summer, may be the first to cross the one-year-of-occupancy finish line required by the institute.
For the June Key Delta Center, it's been a long time coming.
"My dad died 16 years ago," said Tom Kelly, CEO of Neil Kelly Co. "He was helping them with preliminary plans."
Kelly carried on for his father and advised the Portland Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., a community group, as their plans evolved to embrace the Living Building challenge.
Neil Kelly has been working for the last six months to develop a cabinet that would meet the Living Building Challenge standards. The first installation of the cabinets will be in the June Key Delta Center.
Eden Burkman, the Portland-based vice president of the International Living Building Institute, said there are nine living building projects in Oregon currently registered with the institute — there were 11 but two projects have been put on hold because of the economy. Two others in addition to the June Key center are under construction, both private residences.
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