A Green Investment for City’s Buildings

Solar, wind and geothermal are all part of sustainable practices. But the city of Portland, Oregon likes to start at the foundation with green building practices, and a recent allocation of $2.5 million in the Green Investment Fund (GIF) to support local construction projects.

The Energy Trust of Oregon, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to energy efficiency and renewable energy development, has committed to provide $750,000 to the fund. Combined with $1.75 million from the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, Water Bureau and Office of Sustainable Development, this commitment will enable the Fund to provide a total of $2.5 million in grants over the next five years. Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman created GIF, and established the competitive grants program in 2001 with $800,000 in initial grant funding that was used to spur innovation in green building technologies and practices. To date the city has funded 74 projects totaling more than 1.7 million square feet, ranging from large commercial and mixed use projects to single family residences and affordable housing. “Investment in green building technology keeps Portland on a path toward market transformation,” Saltzman said. “Green building contributes to the economic growth of our region while meeting our goals for reducing global warming impacts and resource depletion.” Past projects that benefited from GIF include mixed-use projects like Portland State University’s Stephen Epler Residence Hall, and the Brewery Blocks that are using the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. Epler Hall features integrated design strategies to reduce the building’s annual energy costs to 35 percent below code and municipal water consumption by 110,000 gallons. Brewery Block 4, a LEED Silver rated high-performance speculative office building, is designed to remove more than 310,000 gallons of storm water, reduce energy consumption by 23 percent, and generate more than 21,000 kWh of electricity annually. GIF also funded the city’s first ‘net zero’ energy home that creates as much energy on-site as it uses annually. The renewed Green Investment Fund will seek a range of development projects that are designed and built to meet aggressive and integrated resource conservation goals. Projects should be energy and water efficient, capture and use storm water on site, use low impact and non-toxic materials, and enhance human health. Each project will include rigorous monitoring and evaluation to quantify environmental performance and develop detailed case studies. “This project represents a great collaboration between Energy Trust and the Office of Sustainable Development,” said Steve Lacey, who is the energy efficiency director of the Energy Trust of Oregon. “Through this program, we will showcase emerging energy technologies to Oregon designers and builders, and demonstrate how energy efficiency and green technology are good for business and good for our state.”
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