Posts Tagged ‘ge’

Cascadia’s Green Building Group Gets Real on MoU with GE

December 9th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Last Wednesday, Cascadia GBC’s Green Building Interest Group (GBIG) focused its monthly panel discussion on the Memo of Understanding (MoU) signed between the City of Portland and GE last summer (The Building Advisor blogged on it here). The announcement, while cool, was a bit cloak and dagger, flying under the radar of most media outlets possibly due to its vagarity: the public/private partnership and use of the phrase “sustainable economy efforts” were dead giveaways.

So John Lerch, Government Relations with GE, Clean Energy Works Oregon’s Director of Marketing Will Villota, and John Tydlaska from the Portland Development Commission tried to help the wily brokers, builders, and other green nerds maneuver what was behind last June’s “big formal handshake,” as one panelist put it.

GE and Portland Partner for Sustainable Growth from Mayor Sam Adams on Vimeo.

Turns out, nobody’s all that sure what’s going to happen, but whatever it is, the Oregon Sustainability Center (OSC) is going to be a part of it. Clean Energy Works Oregon needs to be a part of it, due to their status as a nonprofit organization in a pilot program stage that needs to expand.

For another thing, Portland still wants to be best in class on sustainability. Sure, the projects aimed at falling under the header of the MoU will be 1) close to fruition and 2) demonstrative of exportable skills. But its clear we want to use the net zero buildings and university system/City partnerships that come out of the MoU as proof of Portland’s brand as the nation’s hotbed of sustainable innovation.

The City of Vancouver's Olympic Village Project

One hope is that in the delivery of ecodistricts – neighborhoods that are self-contained organisms, both creating and consuming the resources they need – around Portland with the help of GE, we’ll be “retrofitting communities.” This is a deep thought, one to which whole initiatives have been devoted to here at the local level.

Even deeper? Enlisting the public utilities to help us. When you’re starting with a self contained community, like a military base, all the way up to a fast growing, diverse neighborhood like Lents Commons, creating ecodistricts out of existing communities will be a trick. Looking at this “retrofitting communities” idea, we’d have to disassemble a neighborhood that is, according to older models, working just fine.

It’s kind of like increasing the energy efficiency of existing building stock. Its a whole lot easier to build something energy efficient from the ground up (just ask Will about his solar envy). When forced to make something that already exists better, we tend to face a roadblock where many people give up.

It’s a mammoth dream, this ecodistricts stuff, and the GBIG folks on both sides of the table know it. As far as how we get there, Villota alluded to companies like Opower (in the residential space) and Bundle (a financial software dashboard), which show users how their resource usage – be it energy or money – measures up to other Americans. The overall goal being to make energy efficient upgrades a more emotional decision than it ever has been before, even a social imperative.

What do you think? Are competitive dashboards the way to incite motivation for achieving energy savings in the commercial sector? Tell us what you think below.

Images courtesy Portland Online and Sightline Daily

Portland, Ore: NYT Dubs Us ‘Icon of Sustainability’

July 9th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

portland or, the greenest city in US?This week, the New York Times called our little old hometown of Portland, Ore. a city of “green-economy trailblazers,” “a hotbed for small and progressive green-technology companies that might not have the resources or reach yet to capitalize internationally,” and the proposed Oregon Sustainability Center “a big, green stake in the ground for the next generation.”

Ok, so those quotes all came from stakeholders in the massive public/private partnership at the center of the article, “Bold Public-Private Venture Aims to Make Ore. City an ‘Icon of Sustainability.”

But hey. If we don’t tell people about our global leadership in sustainability, how else will they know? General Electric Co. (GE) is excited about it, and its partnership with the City of Portland announced this month now includes the Portland Development Commission and the Oregon Sustainability Center:

portland's springwater corridor“Mayor Sam Adams and General Electric Co. executives are forging a first-of-its-kind partnership that will include retrofitting drafty buildings with energy-saving technologies and helping local startups sell their clean-technology products abroad. GE, the global industrial conglomerate, will also help the “Rose City” bring to life five ‘EcoDistrict’ pilot projects — enclaves that would manage their own energy, water, waste and other systems — as well as build, perhaps, the world’s greenest office building.”

Whew! Do we have plans. Though The Building Advisor poked a bit of fun, the PDC’s EcoDistricts sound fantastic – think of a district of sustainable buildings sharing municipal systems, rather than just a stand alone green building here or there.

And while the Oregon Sustainability Center sounds cool, so too do the plug-in electric vehicle stations, building energy-monitoring systems and other “ecomagination” products GE has planned. GE sought Portland out for this public-private partnership, and plans to help local companies license and sell their products.

Kevin Decker, who coordinates these types of public private partnerships for GE, said “We’ll leverage our supply chain and knowledge of foreign markets to help local businesses license or sell their technologies.”

Originally published on Greenwire.

Images from Destination 360 and David A’s Photos’ photostream on Flickr.

Energy Efficiency Catalysts Big and Small

June 15th, 2010 by Jim Crowder
Alphabits are cereal, not EcoDistricts

Alphabits are cereal, and help with acronyms

Two major developments for energy efficiency in commercial buildings unfolded in the last week with potential for huge impact on economies both near and far to the AirAdvice headquarters. And if you like acronyms, this post will delight you.

On the larger stage of energy efficiency for existing buildings, the Department of Energy announced Monday that 20 U.S. communities will receive a total of $60 million to implement local energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to reduce energy use by businesses and homes. These funds will be distributed via competitive grands under the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Commercial, residential, and municipal energy efficiency retrofits and improvements – like those recommended by the BuildingAdvice suite of energy diagnostics for commercial buildings – fall under these monies. Oregon’s own Columbia County (Northwest of the Portland area) will receive $3.5 million; full list here.

Ork Posters' Vision of our EcoDistrict Conglomeration

Ork Posters' Rendering of Portland's Soon To Be EcoDistricts

And right here in Portland, Ore., a strategic partnership between GE and the City of Portland was announced last week that will allow for energy efficiency, distributed power generation and job creation by local businesses. Mayor Sam Adams and GE reps signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last Tuesday that outlined specific projects, marking the first city in the United States to to have an MoU in place with GE on sustainable economy efforts. The partnership includes engaging with local companies to help develop and expand into new markets via global product licensing, implementing commercial and residential energy efficiency retrofits, developing EcoDistricts throughout the city, and working toward the completion of the Oregon Sustainability Center, as well as to explore city finance needs via municipal, state and GE resources.
The Building Advisor can’t wait to see what these EcoDistricts are gonna look like. I think this will go well with our alphabetically named streets in the Northwest neighborhood – perhaps the sustainable businesses can be indexed by street name?

Images courtesy Dan Goodsell’s mistertoast blog and Ork Posters.