Oregon Building to Help United States Regain Top Spot in Building Green

One small city in the beaver state—Independence, Ore.—is now home to a landmark project that is blazing a trail in the field of green building.

Independence Station, a multiuse structure under development by the Portland, Ore.-based sustainable building developer, Aldeia, is on track to become the world’s greenest building with the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating ever awarded for new construction. In the spirit of the community’s historically significant location at the end of the Oregon Trail, the build-ing will house a variety of uses offering future tenants an opportunity to be modern pioneers in green living and business practices. The 40-percent-complete, 57,000-square-foot, mixed-use structure will include business offices, retail space, a restaurant, research facili-ties, a direct-current-power based data server room, classroom space and 15 residential units.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is an internationally accepted tool to measure sustainable green building and development practices. The current record holder, a Canadian project, has a score of 63 out of a possible 69 points. At its completion next year, Inde-pendence Station is expected to earn between 64 and 66 points, bringing the top score back to the United States.

Independence Station’s potential rating is owed primarily to its use of renewable energy sources—mostly the sun and vegetable oil—and the means of distributing, storing and managing that energy efficiently throughout the building. The building will boast a unique 120-kilowatt installation of photovoltaic panels that will produce more than enough energy to run the building, store extra energy in a large battery bank for nighttime use, and feed power back into the grid.

In cooler, cloudier months, the building will rely more on a biodiesel-fueled cogeneration and thermal storage system, including a retired tugboat engine affectionately named Mabel, which will serve as a backup and will run on waste vegetable oil from local restau-rants. The building will include a number of other features to help minimize its consumption of energy from the grid, including radiant floor heating and cooling, displacement ventilation, solar water heating, day lighting design, an ice-based cooling storage system, water-based ground source heat pump, and extensive use of light-emitting diodes.

Construction on Independence Station is expected to be completed in 2010.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer
Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelancer writer. He has a passion for renewable power. He may be reached at richardlaezman@msn.com .

Stay Informed Join our Newsletter

Having trouble finding time to sit down with the latest issue of
ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR? Don't worry, we'll come to you.