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June Key Delta Community Center celebrates grand opening

On a recent summer evening, a BPS grantee of the Green Investment Fund celebrated their grand opening. The celebration was a joyous event attended by Delta Sigma Theta sorority members, the Piedmont Neighborhood community, elected officials and sustainability professionals.

For the last 20 years, the Delta Sigma Theta sorority has been working to redevelop an abandoned and formerly contaminated gas station on North Albina and Ainsworth. This project has grown into so much more than just a meeting hall for the all-African American sorority members. As a grassroots Living Building demonstration project, the community center will be an educational space to learn about advanced green building practices and will be utilized as a community garden and community center for the broader North Portland community.

The June Key Delta Community Center is currently the first grassroots and African American owned commercial building to pursue the Living Building Challenge in the United States, and has the potential to be the first commercial Living Building in Oregon. This project serves as an example of how a wide range of diverse stakeholders can work together to develop and achieve a "greener" future for the communities most impacted by environmental and health disparities.

In 2006 the Cascadia Chapter of the US Green Building Council issued the Living Building Challenge, a standard that strives to move beyond the LEED system for a truly restorative building science. The standard uses 20 imperatives, organized around 7 themes known as "petals". These petals encompass the following subjects: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity, and Beauty.  Each of the requirements defined in the imperatives are mandatory.

Upon completion, the site will include the following sustainable development features:

  • Energy Production: Net-zero energy from solar and geothermal energy sources on site.
  • Water Treatment: Storm-water will be stored, processed to potable standards, and re-used on site. Black water effluent will also be treated and infiltrated on-site.
  • Eco-friendly Materials: Only non-toxic, sensitively sourced, and recycled materials will be installed in the building structure.
  • Urban Agriculture: A portion of the brownfield has been transformed into a productive community garden.
  • Minority Owned Business Empowerment & Employment Opportunity: Equitable contracting, hiring, and training opportunities have been a priority throughout construction.


The Portland region is known around the nation for being ahead of the curve in sustainable, environmentally-friendly development. But, those developments have not always provided opportunities for the communities in most need of empowerment and most affected by climate change. The June Key Delta Community Center presents an opportunity to bring sustainable building practices to a broader community, where one building embodies the hopes of all people to live in a healthy, safe, and equitable world.

You can tour the June Key Delta House on the Build It Green! Home Tour .