Last week the Cascadia Green Building Council held their regional green building conference in Portland. The Cascadia region includes Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska, and is home to some of the most advanced and visionary thinkers on the topic of sustainable design. As a result, though the conference is a regional conference, it attracts building designers and policy makers from around the nation.
At the conference Debbie Cleek, the green building specialist for the Bureau of Development Services, spoke on a panel about innovative programs government agencies had adopted to advance green building practices. The panel also included a representative from the State of Oregon Building Codes Division and a representative from the City of Vancouver.
Debbie spoke about the Alternative Technology Advisory Committee (ATAC), which is a new review process BDS created to help innovative, sustainable products and construction practices be used in buildings sooner. The optional review process runs parallel to the building codes appeal process, and includes a committee of outside experts in the field of sustainable design and construction to evaluate the proposals and make recommendations to BDS. The City of Portland is the first city in the nation to create such a process! More info about the ATAC process can be found on the BDS website.
The conference used Portland to showcase the latest in green building design, with tours of several local LEED buildings. This included a tour of the East Portland Community Center led by Alisa Kane with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. This city-owned recreation center was completed last year and is on track to be certified as a LEED platinum facility, due in part to many energy and water efficient measures used in the design.
Some of the big ideas discussed at the conference included:
- Widespread use of the Living Building Challenge instead of LEED as the tool design the next generation of green buildings.
- Biomimicry and looking to nature to help us solve our design problems.
- Resiliency by creating buildings and communities that can provide us with the basics we need to support life.
- The nexus between water and energy and changing our relationship to both potable water and sewage to recognize the value of these resources.