Posted by: BayAreaComRE | February 3, 2010

Out of Market: Portland – Energy Efficient, at What Cost?

In some out of market news, the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in downtown Portland will begin a $133 million renovation project this year – Oregon’s largest federal stimulus package to date. The U.S. General Services Administration will team up with SERA Architects to create one of the largest vertical gardens in the world, at 250 ft. This costly, laborious project aims to reduce energy waste and consumption by up to 65% compared to other high-rise buildings. In terms of dollars, that translates to an approximate $280,000 reduction in annual energy costs.

The hefty investment (and ultimate savings) comes as no surprise once you factor in the cost of gutting some of the interior in order to replace the single-pane windows that are leaking air and water, replacing the west side facade, re-locating many of the federal employees within the building during construction, purchase of the trellis plants (aka “climbing vines”) and other eco-friendly materials.

The reconstructed building will be utilizing a multitude of technological advances, “elevators that generate electricity on the way down, solar arrays on the roof, smart lighting systems that adjust to the daylight available, using some of the collected rainwater to flush toilets.”

It couldn’t come at a better time says Kevin Kampschroer, the General Services Administration official in charge of the greening of the federal buildings, “it’s not structurally unsound, but it’s not going to get any better”

San Francisco’s GSA building has won multiple design awards including Time Magazine’s distinguished “Top 10 Architectural Marvels” award and the White House’s “Closing the Circle” Award which honors sustainable federal developments. Portland is definitely taking a step in the right direction by pushing the GSA to be a leader in sustainability.



  1. Wow, I’m impressed to see an article about GSA on this blog. Thanks bayareacomre for the comprehensive RE coverage.

    Check out this project we’re working on in SF:

    and the Newsom’s vision to join:

    Unfortunately cleaning up the Loin is going to be much more difficult than getting a LEED accreditation.

  2. This looks like an incredible project utilizing some truly revolutionary break-throughs in sustainable design. It’s great to see Federal buildings taking on these types of initiatives.

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