It seems naturally fitting that Portland, Oregon, seen as a hub of green sustainability practices by many, would aim to have one of the greenest buildings in the world. A project called the Oregon Sustainability Center (OSC) is currently unfolding which, if built, would be seen as being a shining example of what green building design can accomplish if properly supported.
OSC would be scaled towards triple net-zero performance in energy and water use and carbon emissions. It is said as well that it will be “a technological model and a hub for sustainable practices, policy, education, research and entrepreneurship,” bringing together “academic, government, nonprofit and business sectors to advance the region’s innovation in sustainability.” To find out more about OSC and the buzz behind it, we turn to Lisa Abuaf from the Portland Development Commission for more details.
EarthTechling (ET): Provide a little background please on the Oregon Sustainability Center. What exactly is it?
Lisa Abuaf: The Center is designed to be the top performing, high-rise office building in North America and a prototype and urban living laboratory that strives for net zero energy, water and waste water performance. The project will demonstrate replicable, next generation approaches to integrated design and sustainable building; exemplify Portland and Oregon’s commitment to innovative sustainability and green development; serve as a collaborative hub for sustainability-related research, policy, advocacy and education; and deepen Oregon’s green building expertise while creating local jobs and supporting the growth of our clean tech and green building industries.
ET: What will make the OSC unique among green building designs?
Abuaf: To achieve net zero performance, the project is pursuing the Living Building Challenge and is expected to perform well beyond LEED Platinum. The Living Building Challenge is an international certification developed by the Cascadia Green Building Council that creates the most all-encompassing green standards in the industry – even surpassing the familiar LEED platinum certification. The Living Building Challenge is a rigorous performance standard that defines the closest measure of true sustainability in the built environment, using a benchmark of what is currently possible and given the best knowledge available today. Version 2.0 is comprised of twenty imperatives within seven performance areas, or Petals: Site, Water, Energy, Health, materials, Equity, and Beauty.
Among the Challenge’s many requirements, a building has to use no more energy over the course of a year than it can produce with renewable energy made on-site. Buying credits for alternative energy power made elsewhere doesn’t count, rather the building must produce as much power as it consumes, all from on-site renewable energy. Similarly, all the water used must come from rainfall on-site, except as required by local health codes. In addition, all wastewater and storm water are managed on-site and all occupants must have access to operable windows for fresh air and daylight.