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Oregon Sustainability Center

The Oregon Sustainability Center in downtown Portland was envisioned as the gateway to the region’s sustainability community. A high-rise designed in alignment with the Living Building Challenge framework, the Center would have integrated, under one roof, sustainability-driven businesses and non-profits, university-level education and research, energy policy and planning, workforce development, and public agencies. SERA worked in collaboration with GBD Architects, Gerding Edlen Development, Skanska USA Building and a local team of expert consultants. As designed, the project reduced energy requirements by 75% compared to a comparable, conventionally designed building.

The Living Building Challenge, developed by the Cascadia Green Building Council in 2006, sets goals of achieving net-zero energy use, net-zero water use, and all wastewater managed on-site. The Center design was the largest project in terms of square footage and verticality to attempt the Living Building Challenge. Proposed energy reduction strategies included incorporating the highest performance envelope, highest efficiency active systems, maximized use of passive systems including night ventilation of mass and daylighting, maximizing use of natural energy, and occupant engagement in management of energy from equipment.

The Center was intended to be the anchor for one of Portland’s first EcoDistricts, a neighborhood development strategy that combines high performance buildings with city infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and water use.

The team completed three phases to arrive at a Guaranteed Maximum Price for a Living Building.

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