An unassuming brick-clad building in Portland, Ore., seeks to become the state’s first “living building.” Located at 151 S.W. First Ave., the five-story, multi-use building was designed to provide replicable cost-effective solutions for sustainable design that can last for more than 500 years.
According to PAE Consulting Engineers, which planned, designed and constructed the structure, the building’s green technology features five operable 12.5-by-10.5-foot windows that provide 70% of the fifth floor’s ventilation and cooling and enough photovoltaic array to produce 368,000 kWh hours of energy per year. This helps provide 80% energy savings over a typical existing office building before solar harvesting, says PAE.
PAE also says that the building features optimal daylight, operable windows and other biophilic strategies to support occupant health, comfort and productivity.
The building is “one of the only office buildings in the world to be powered entirely by the sun and get all of its water from the rain that falls on its roof while simultaneously providing a financial return for its investors,” PAE president Paul Schwer told The Seattle Times.
The building can also collect and treat its water and compose waste thanks to multi-story vacuum-flush compostable toilets that reduce water use and transform waste into a rich nutrient source. Additional green technology includes two giant cisterns that store 72,000 gallons of rainwater, which can also be turned into drinking water, and 20 compost bins that convert the building’s waste products into fertilizer. PAE adds that 105% of the energy used is provided by onsite and offsite renewable energy.
According to The Seattle Times, PAE seeks to classify the building as living, which is the “most stringent and demanding environmental performance standard for buildings.” The Seattle-based International Living Future Institute administers the program and has certified just 30 structures worldwide as fully living buildings.
The International Living Future Institute states that to become a living building, a structure must have a relationship with its location, be energy and water positive, use sustainable materials for building, provide equity for residents and have aesthetic values.
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