11-29-2020  11:26 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
MLK Breakfast 2021 Save the Date
Lisa Loving of The Skanner News
Published: 18 August 2011

You may not know about it, but there's a race on in Oregon to see who will build the first 'Living Building' – a structure that generates no waste, uses no energy to function, and is constructed without toxic materials, among other things.

The race is technically not over yet but we seem to have a winner: The June Key Delta Community Center, which celebrated its grand opening last week at the corner of North Albina and Ainsworth Streets.

Once the Portland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and its nonprofit foundation the Piedmont Rose Connection, raise enough funds to pay for solar panels, the building will reach "net zero" energy use status and can be certified by the Living Building Challenge – the first in Oregon.

Project Coordinator Chris Poole-Jones says the sorority wove together a tapestry of local nonprofit groups, businesses and volunteers to set a statewide standard in green building – which just happens to have been accomplished by a racially diverse group with about $800,000 to spend.

"It's history making because we took a brownfield, which was a toxic site, and made it into a green building," she said. "We had basically chosen to take the highest level of green building and take it higher to the Living Building Challenge."


The June Key Center is named for the Delta soror who first came up with the idea in the early 1990s and pushed for it among the local community (as well as city and regional government bureaus and nonprofits) (she died beore this happened).

Key, who donated the property to the Deltas, died several years ago before seeing how far her vision would come.

Watch a before-and-after slideshow of the project, set to a Stevie Wonder instrumental from "The Secret Life of Plants," on their website, http://www.key-delta-living-building.com/ .

Living Building Challenge

A cutting-edge environmental standard in building construction and redevelopment, the Living Building Challenge is an international movement to promote green building practices in local communities.

Created by the International Living Future Institute, the challenge offers an array of standards touching on seven areas of building consideration: "Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty."

"The purpose of the Living Building Challenge is straightforward – it defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions," Living Future says on its website. "Whether your project is a single building, a park, a college campus or even a complete neighborhood community, Living Building Challenge provides a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment."

In the Living Building Challenge, the June Key Center has been consistently portrayed by observers as being in competition with the Portland State University Oregon Sustainability Center, a high-rise, multi-use building in downtown Portland which has yet to break ground.

The two projects were juxtaposed last year at the Seattle Living Future seminar which featured  Project Architect, Mark Nye,Poole-Jones and a team for the community center alongside representatives from the Sustainability Center, a mammoth $80 million project now slated to begin construction in early 2012, according to its website.

So far only three buildings in the world have been certified as "Living Buildings," and they're located in Missouri, Hawaii, and New York; a fourth has achieved partial recognition. A building must operate within the Living Buildings guidelines for one year before achievement official certification.

"If they can achieve 'Living Building' after a year that will be truly significant," said PDC spokeswoman Anne Mangan. "The place it has in the neighborhood is really important."

Historic Milestone

Marcelo Bonta, a member of the Verde outreach board as well as the founder and executive director of the Center for Diversity & the Environment, says the June Key Center could be a boost for similar projects on the future.

"My organization works on diversity, inclusion and equity in the environmental and sustainable energy movements, and what's wonderful about this project is – it's by and for people of color and a perfect resource in the North Portland community," he said.

"Communities of color have been engaged in sustainability and the environment for a long time, and it's great to have a project such as this to gain the attention of a city like Portland as well as getting the attention of mainstream environmentalists."

Bonta says the crucial issue is access to the funds and resources to make similar ideas into reality.

"I see projects like this coming more and more in the future, and communities of color have the commitment and skills and interest to do this work but they may not have adequate resources to do them," he said. "Access to the funds and resources are important, but when it comes to engaging a more diverse set of experts that's another issue as well.

"This is a great example of diversity at its best of when different communities of different diverse backgrounds define diversity for themselves."

Many to Had a Hand in the Work

Poole-Jones names a long list of people and groups who worked together for many years to reach completion of the new community center – which will be open for meeting and events rentals and also offers a community garden.

Funding and loans came from the Portland Development Commission and contributions from dozens of local supporters and Delta sorority members; green-certified cabinets came from Tom Kelly at Neil Kelly remodeling company; sinks, outside siding and recycled building materials were donated by the Rebuilding Company on North Mississippi Avenue, managed by Shane Endicott; Verde, the Cully Neighborhood-based environmental community development nonprofit, brought in native plants used to landscape the former gas station; and the East Multnomah Soil and Water District contributed to the community vegetable garden plot on the building's East side.

Also working on the project were: Colas Construction, which renovated the site; Nye Architecture LLC; Roslyn Hill's Nyanneco Design and Consulting Services; Lesley Unthank and Francetta Cross spearheaded the interior design; and webmaster Anne Morrin assembled a website documenting every step of the project's construction.

"Communities of color don't have to wait for the city or mainstream environmental groups to come to them," Bonta said. "We can be creative, and we have the expertise to get this right."

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • Wisconsin recount of its presidential results on Sunday, confirmed that Democrat Joe Biden won the state by more than 20,600 votes...   MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin finished a recount of its presidential results on Sunday, confirming Democrat Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump in the key battleground state. Trump vowed to challenge the outcome in court even before the recount concluded. Dane County was the second and last county to finish its recount, reporting a 45-vote gain for Trump. Milwaukee County, the state's other big and overwhelmingly liberal county targeted in a recount that Trump paid for, reported its results Friday, a 132-vote gain for Biden. Taken together, the two counties barely budged Biden's winning margin of about 20,600 votes.  “As we have said, the recount only served to reaffirm Joe Biden’s victory in Wisconsin," Danielle Melfi, who led Biden's campaign in Wisconsin, said in a statement to The Associated Press. Trump tweets he will sue With no precedent for overturning a result as large as Biden's, Trump was widely expected to head to court once the recount was finished. His campaign challenged thousands of absentee ballots during the recount, and even before it was complete, Trump tweeted that he would sue. “The Wisconsin recount is not about finding mistakes in the count, it is about finding people who have voted illegally, and that case will be brought after the recount is over, on Monday or Tuesday,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “We have found many illegal votes. Stay tuned!” Trump campaign officials didn't immediately respond to AP requests for comment on Sunday. The deadline to certify the vote is Tuesday. Certification is done by the Democratic chair of the Wisconsin Election Commission, which is bipartisan.  Drop boxes "illegal" suit says The Wisconsin Voters Alliance, a conservative group, has already filed a lawsuit against state election officials seeking to block certification of the results. It makes many of the claims Trump is expected to make. Gov. Tony Evers’ attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss the suit. Evers, a Democrat, said the complaint is a “mishmash of legal distortions” that uses factual misrepresentations in an attempt to take voting rights away from millions of Wisconsin residents.  Another suit filed over the weekend by Wisconsin resident Dean Mueller argues that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. Trump lawsuits have failed Trump’s attorneys have complained about absentee ballots where voters identified themselves as “indefinitely confined,” allowing them to cast an absentee ballot without showing a photo ID; ballots that have a certification envelope with two different ink colors, indicating a poll worker may have helped complete it; and absentee ballots that don’t have a separate written record for its request, such as in-person absentee ballots. Election officials in the two counties counted those ballots during the recount, but marked them as exhibits at the request of the Trump campaign.  Trump’s campaign has already failed elsewhere in court without proof of widespread fraud, which experts widely agree doesn’t exist. Trump legal challenges have failed in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
    Read More
  • Pennsylvania justices also remarked on the lawsuit's staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. “They have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted,” Justice David Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion
    Read More
  • The number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations also continues to surge with 529 people hospitalized — a 209% increase since the start of the month
    Read More
  • Of the 33,035 vehicle stops Portland police made in 2019, 18% were for Black drivers and 65% were for white drivers. White people make up 75.1% of the population, while Black people make up 5.8%
    Read More
  • Oregon wholesale tree farmers and small cut-your-own lots are reporting strong demand and seeing more people earlier than ever
    Read More
  • The police bureau uses a complicated methodology in reporting data
    Read More
  • Groups representing Oregon foodservice and lodging businesses had asked the judge to modify the governor’s order
    Read More
OHA Safe Strong final
Calendar

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events

Kevin Saddler