Meet SBO’s 2013 Innovation in Sustainability Award winners (Photos)

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  • New Seasons Market is one of the 20 companies that landed Innovation in Sustainability honors this year. Click through for details on each of the companies that'll collect their awards on November 14 in Portland.

  • ENERGY: Cascade Energy

    In 2009 a large food and beverage distribution company engaged with Portland-based Cascade Energy to seek ways to reduce energy costs and consumption. Cascade, in talking about how energy efficiency can serve as a corporate strategy, suggested using its SENSEI system to help the client achieve energy reduction goals. Cascade Energy’s SENSEI is an energy-efficiency Web application that allows clients to view and share real-time energy performance data while effectively tracking progress on energy-saving actions, projects and events.

  • EQUITY: Hacienda CDC

    Two major initiatives neatly define the Portland nonprofit Hacienda CDC’s Community Economic Development Department efforts. Those would be the Micro Mercantes Incubator and The Portland Mercado. The efforts aim to reduce the economic inequality facing Latinos in Portland, helping to alleviate the disproportionate poverty and disparate health outcomes. Which in itself is award-worthy. What impressed us about Hacienda is that the group simply enables Latino entrepreneurs to succeed. The group provides technical assistance, finds affordable retail space, seeks out access to selling opportunities and can even uncover capital for those pesky equipment and inventory expenses.

  • ENERGY: Green Hammer

    Imagine a company that views every building as an opportunity to increase its already-strident commitment to environmental stewardship, beauty, health and equality. That’s exactly Green Hammer’s approach. At the onset of each project, it weaves its clients into a unified design-build team in which those aims become one holistic objective. The strategy has resulted in a whopping 10 residential projects that have received Passive House, LEED or Earth Advantage certification since 2008.

    Jon Jensen
  • ENERGY: Holst Architecture

    Working with the builder Hammer and Hand, Portland’s Holst Architecture completed the design and construction of the "Karuna House" in Newberg this year. And what a house it is.The Karuna House collected the first MINERGIE-P-ECO certification in the United States, meaning it’s the first U.S. home to achieve the Swiss group’s stringent energy performance and sustainability requirements. Which makes sense because the Karuna House is an ambitious green building project that’s also attained Passive House PHIUS+ certification and is a pending LEED for Homes Platinum abode. That’s a doozy of a “Triple Crown” of energy efficiency certifications.

    Jeremy Bittermann
  • EQUITY: New Seasons

    Honestly, New Seasons Market had one of those years where it could have won any environmentally oriented award it wanted. The grocer met standards for net-zero waste this summer, a remarkable achievement for any retailer that collects its inventory from myriad supply chains. New Seasons also earned B Corp status in a major way, logging an astronomical score on the B Labs certification test. It further began harvesting its own honey from a set of hives atop its Happy Valley store. In its Portland Hawthorne and the just-opened Williams stores, New Seasons installed glycol pumps that only provide the necessary energy flow, based on system loads, that ramp down at night and save loads of energy.

  • EQUITY: On-the-Move Community Integration

    It’s hard to imagine a more heartwarming, and, yes, equitable, nonprofit than On-The-Move Community Integration. The group's executive director Molly Mayo says On-The-Move’s formal mission goes something like this: The group helps connect adults with special needs to healthy, meaningful and environmentally responsible recreation opportunities in urban and natural areas around Portland. It specializes in “small group community inclusion activities” that encourages participants to contribute something, anything, to the greater good.

  • FOOD: Pacific Foods

    How committed are Pacific Foods’ leaders, including Chuck Eggert (pictured here) to their sustainable mission? Let’s go to the numbers. In 2012, 82 percent of the company’s ingredient purchases by weight were certified organic, or produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering, sewage fertilization or irradiation. Plus, in the last seven years, the company has invested $1 million-plus to complete more than 40 energy efficiency projects. This includes premium efficiency upgrades of lighting, motors, air compressors, refrigeration and boiler steam systems.

  • FOOD: Zenger Farm

    One of our favorite stories of 2013 stemmed from one of Portland’s happiest places. That would be Zenger Farm, a font of good vibes. News broke in May that Zenger Farm operators, who run Portland’s premier urban educational agricultural facility, want to double their educational capacity. Zenger wants to open a new 7,760-square-foot structure dubbed an “Urban Grange” at its Southeast Portland site. The effort, which will cost $1.9 million, will help inform visitors about the advantages of eating healthy, local food. Early reports are that the fundraising is going well in advance of next spring’s scheduled groundbreaking. Zenger’s team has raised $700,000 from such backers as Bob’s Red Mill — which contributed $250,000 — Bridgetown Natural Foods ($150,000) and New Seasons Market ($125,000). Some 7,000 students visit Zenger Farm each year.

  • NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: Columbia Green Technologies

    If you ever get a chance to visit Columbia Green Technologies’ Southeast Portland headquarters, ask one of their staffers for a tour of the roof. After a bumpy ride in what feels like a 100-year-old (and rickety) freight elevator, you’ll hit a bit of gardening nirvana. It’s on that roof where Columbia Green’s work shines the brightest: Rows and rows of flora that both protects the Central Eastside Industrial District building’s ancient roof and diverts plenty of water toward better uses. Plus, there’s an absolutely killer view of downtown Portland and the city’s northern points. The rooftop is one of the best spots in Portland, but it only tells a fraction of the Columbia Green story. The green roof company earned SBO accolades for several reasons, including its work atop Sandy High School and the Multnomah County Library, pictured here.


    The area’s leading environmentally driven nonprofit announced earlier this year it will spin out its marine consulting group into a company called Point 97. The entity, led by Ruby Gates (pictured here) will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ecotrust. Point 97 aims to provide new technologies and engagement strategies for the marine and ocean planning sectors. Specifically, its work could help fisheries better manage data through better technology. The company will further develop and market data visualization and ocean planning portals used in the Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic and along the West Coast.

    Sam Beebe
  • NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission of Lane County

    In a late-August story, we introduced readers to “Oregon’s smelliest forest.” That would be part of the “Biocycle Forest” that the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission in Lane County is harvesting. It’s routing poplar trees to chipped products and hog fuel while making good on a decades-old commitment to use biosolids sustainably. It’s an intriguing project that, with its government roots, come from an unusual place. The MWMC treats wastewater for 220,000 residents in Lane County, with an operating budget of $16 million a year. Its territory includes the cities of Springfield and Eugene, and its mission calls for disposing the biosolids that result from the wastewater treatment process.

  • TRANSPORTATION: Drive Oregon

    It’s unbelievable that Drive Oregon has only been around for two years. The group is, quite simply, the driving force behind the state’s innovation in electric mobility. It connects governmental leaders with entrepreneurs as it promotes, supports and fortifies Oregon’s electric mobility industry. The sector already provides thousands of family-wage jobs in several realms related to infrastructure, components, specialized vehicles and support services. And in just 24 months, the group’s name has become synonymous with the state’s growing influence in the electric vehicle world.

  • TRANSPORTATION: SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel

    At SBO, we’ve long been intrigued by SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel’s mission. The Portland alternative fuel producer collects waste cooking oil and converts it into usable fuels. In and of itself, that’s a worthy goal. But we became even more captivated this spring when SeQuential revealed it had struck agreements with two massive cooking oil generators: the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field and the Seattle Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field. SeQuential is now collecting used cooking oil from those two stadiums along with Pike Place Market, the University of Washington and Taco Time Corp. In late summer, SeQuential announced a similar deal with the University of Oregon. All told, the company’s working with more than 7,000 restaurants and other waste generators.

  • WASTE: Northwest Sign Recycling

    With its water jets that cleanly restore aluminum signs that would otherwise require a lot of carbon to reuse, Prineville’s Northwest Sign Recycling has become one of Oregon’s most innovative companies. Northwest Sign Recycling hydrostrips aluminum road signs, using jets of water — some 37,000 pounds per square inch — to remove old sign laminates and restore blank signs to a smooth reusable surface. The company’s process extracts any leftover laminate fragments by vacuum, which officials say allows for “nonhazardous disposal of the waste.”

  • WASTE: Providence Health and Services

    Sure, it isn’t always easy for a mainstream business to be green. But for health care facilities, managing waste is an ever-daunting task. That is, it’s tough for most health care facilities save for Providence Health & Services, which handily collected SBO honors for a bevy of programs. It operates its own recycling center that serves eight statewide hospitals where it sends all of its commingled recycling. Plus, in 2012, Providence also partnered with a minority-owned plastics processor and another manufacturer to launch a different plastics reuse program. Providence sends about 50 percent of its plastic to the processor. It’s looking to up that percentage to 85 percent.

  • WASTE: Viridian

    The waves of shipping pallets and crates that make their way through the Pacific Northwest ports, as it turns out, can be very efficiently upcycled. At least when Viridian gets involved. Through years of trial and error, Viridian pioneered a method for using the dockside discards to make products with lasting value. It’s part of the Portland company’s philosophy of using every stick of wood it reclaims to reduce demand for new lumber. The results appear at such places as the Multnomah Whiskey Library, which features a stunning interior around its massive liquor selection.

  • WATER: Green Empowerment

    We asked Green Empowerment's Anna Garwood about her personal hero. "Jaime Muñoz is one of my role models," she said. "Since 2002, he’s been the founder and leader of Asofenix, one of Green Empowerment’s non-profit partners in Nicaragua. He is a brilliant community organizer who has brought electricity and water to thousands of people, through solar water pumps, micro-hydro systems and other appropriate technologies. Now, he’s expanding into integrated projects that have even greater environmental and health impacts like patio gardens, reforestation, improved cookstoves and sustainable agriculture."

  • WATER: Puralytics

    It seems like every time we turn around, Beaverton-based Puralytics is earning more acclaim. Before receiving word that it collected SBO honors in the Water category, the company was awarded the 2013 Global Honour Award from the International Water Association. Puralytics won the award for providing access to safe drinking water in Malawi, Africa. Earlier this fall, the company landed its first patent for its systems that destroy water contaminants without yielding any waste discharge. Puralytics procured the patent for its LED Activated Nanotechnology Water Purifier.

  • FOOD: Green Zebra Grocery

    Lisa Sedlar (middle) readily admits the pressure’s on her and her new store Green Zebra to meet some high expectations. Yet, with last month’s opening of the company’s first retail outlet in Portland's Kenton neighborhood, she’s off to a great start. Investors, including several of the state’s most prominent angel funders, helped Sedlar complete a $2 million funding round to help open the store. She’s also immediately begun working with a broad range of local suppliers such as Ristretto Roasters, which are selling their top-notch beans at Green Zebra. The store is best described as an organically leaning and locally sourced neighborhood market.


    It’s been a fine year for Brammo. And by extension, it’s been a great year for those who love fast electric motorcycles. Yes, there’s a connection. First, a bit about Brammo. The company designs and develops electric vehicles such as the Enertia and Empulse R motorcycles. These machines are full-on EVs designed as environmentally sound units that don’t compromise on performance. Brammo raised $4.5 million in equity funding in the spring. That hefty figure arrived on top of $13 million it has nabbed since the beginning of 2012.