Oregon's Living Buildings keep smaller profile
By Erik Siemers
With the high-profile Oregon Sustainability Center project shelved for now, builders like James Arnold of JRA Green Building are chasing the Living Building Challenge. Click through the gallery to see views of his newest ultra-green home. (Photos by the Business Journal's Cathy Cheney)
It wasn’t long ago that Portland and Seattle were in a race to see which city could be the first to build the biggest Living Building.
With Portland’s Oregon Sustainability Center still on the hunt for financing and Seattle’s Bullitt Center under construction and looking for tenants, those seem like the days of yore.
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“I had so much hope when both projects were on the drawing board that we’d have these twin towers between Portland and Seattle,” said Sarah Costello, vice president for development and communications at the International Living Future Institute, the Portland-based organization that certifies projects and develops the standards for the Living Building Challenge, arguably the world’s most stringent design standard.
The challenge strives to push architects and developers to construct buildings that generate their own energy, reuse water and produce no waste, while being constructed out of sustainable and locally sourced materials.
The $61.7 million Oregon Sustainability Center was to be the showpiece of the movement, the greenest high-rise ever built and a statement that Portland was a leader in Living Building development.
The project, to be located on the eastern edge of Portland State University’s campus, hit a snag in March when state lawmakers nixed a plan to finance it using $36 million in bonds backed by the Oregon University System.
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Though the project’s developers, including the Portland Development Commission, believe the high-rise still has life, Portland development community has shifted its focus to smaller, more manageable Living Buildings.
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