Ecotrust's Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center has been awarded a gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification under the strict standards developed by the US Green Building Council. It is the first gold-rated building in Oregon and the first gold-rated historic restoration in the nation.
"Ecotrust has created a landmark of national significance," said US Green Building Council President Christine Ervin, visiting the Natural Capital Center to present the award. She also announced that the Portland area leads the nation with 18 projects already certified by the Council.
The LEED certification program was adopted two years ago to provide a definitive standard for what constitutes a "green building". Its criteria emphasize siting, design and construction considerations such as access to transportation, water and energy conservation, and utilization of recycled materials. The Natural Capital Center scored 41 out of a possible 69 points, earning credit for its recycled content, water efficient landscaping and use of natural light, among other measures.
Since LEED's unveiling as a national standard two years ago, the number of projects around the country seeking certification has climbed from 45 in 2000 to more than 200 last year. Several cities, including Portland, Seattle and Austin, have adopted the LEED standard for government-funded projects. LEED's growing popularity signals the rise of a new approach to development, one that creates better, healthier spaces for its occupants and has a lighter impact on nature.
After the award presentation, Rob Bennett and Greg Acker of the City's Office of Sustainable Development moderated a panel discussion among the building's redevelopment team. The panel shared their experiences of working within the "common language" of LEED, as Jeff Stuhr of HOLST Architecture phrased it.
"Everything we're seeing from TRI-Met to housing projects has LEED in mind. And we always put our experience with this project (the Natural Capital Center) at the top of our list," emphasized Dan Snow of Walsh Construction. Ralph DiNola of PGE Green Building Services, the LEED consultant to the project, agreed, "This is the first LEED gold project that I worked on and now I've got more than 10 projects that are going for LEED. This team had it all in place."