Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 13 Sustainable Building

Portland seeks to export sustainable building and planning as an economic development policy. It is working. An element of that plan is to construct a net-zero building as the center for sustainabilty studies, city and state offices of sustainability and public interest groups in Portland. It is the Oregon Sustainability Center.

We need to turn building around. Indigenous building from our cave dwelling days used renewable material. In rainy Africa adobe bricks of straw, mud and termite mounds form walls that can last nearly indefinitely when covered by well maintained thatched roofs. Those roofs are quieter in the rain than galvanized steel.

Meanwhile current buildings are expensive and have very short lives. The most expensive home parts, bathrooms and kitchens, have only an approximate 15-20 year design life, while their functional life is potentially much, much longer. Building and demolition generates up to a third of solid waste. Cement production creates 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions and is a major source of airborne mercury in Oregon. Building materials consume large amounts of energy in their manufacture. About 40% of energy is used in buildings.

We have a long way for the lives of buildings to become sustainable.

Tonight's talk is on the design of a sustainable building for the sustainability center. Ralph DiNola of Green Building Services and Dennis Wilde of Gerding Edlen Development will present the current design and discuss the challenges resolved and yet to be resolved. It is part of the Bright Lights series sponsored by the local architecture magazine Portland Spaces and the City Club, a thoughtful public interest group.

At Jimmy Mak's, 221 NW 10th. Doors 5:30PM, discussion 6. Free