Port of Portland HQ A Very Green Building

All those planes and barges that arrive in and depart from Portland, Ore., use a lot of energy and resources, but the new headquarters for the Port of Portland — the regional authority that handles all that traffic — does not. The facility recently earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in recognition of its environmentally conscious construction, systems and design.

This 205,000-square foot office building was designed, according to the Port of Portland’s Executive Director  Bill Wyatt, to reflect a goal the Port set out at the beginning of the project , which was to “reflect this region’s commitment to sustainability.” Towards that end, the facility incorporates the usual laundry list of eco-features, including extensive use of daylighting, window glazing, exterior sun-shades, low-flow water fixtures, and an eco-roof, all of which will help the facility save energy and cash.

Port of Portland LEED headquarters

image via Port of Portland

But make no mistake: in keeping with Portland’s ultra-green reputation, the new Port of Portland headquarters features some ground-breaking uses of eco-tech as well. One of these technologies is a Living Machine water treatment system, which filters and treats 100 percent of the building’s wastewater for reuse in the building’s toilets and cooling tower. This is achieved via a series of wetlands on-site, where plants do the dirty work in a series of ponds (This facility is now the largest commercial facility with a Living Machine wastewater treatment system in the Western U.S.)

The heating and cooling system is also noteworthy, as it’s powered by a closed loop ground source geothermal heating and cooling system, which serves the passive radiant ceiling panel heating and cooling inside. According to the Port of Portland, this is the first coupling of these heating and cooling systems in the United States.

All told, the building requires no fossil fuels to heat, cool, or power (through  multi-year renewable energy contract); it uses 75 percent less water and 36 percent less energy than a standard building of the same size.  It also boasts a recycling rate of 76 percent with on-site food composting, easily accessible recycling, and an office supply re-use program.

Did you know there are a lot of green buildings like this around the world? Learn more about them here.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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