Portland Community is a Sustainability Game Changer

A new apartment community in Portland is rewriting the standards for sustainable living.

By Andie Lowenstein, Associate Editor

Portland, Ore.—One of the largest apartment communities ever built in Portland is using a new kind of natural treatment system.

The Velomor

The Velomor

The new system at Hassalo on Eighth manages 100 percent of the development’s wastewater onsite. This is a highly sustainable practice for a residential project and unprecedented at this scale. In addition to the onsite wastewater treatment, the system will reduce water use at the development by half.

Hassalo on Eighth’s “Natural Organic Recycling Machine,” or NORM, treats nearly 45,000 gallons of wastewater each day from the development’s three apartment buildings and reuses the water for cooling systems, flushing toilets and landscape irrigation.

The City of Portland teamed up with Hassalo on Eighth to support NORM and offered creative technical, policy and financial support due to NORM’s ability to reduce wastewater sent to the city’s limited sewer system.

“Hassalo on Eighth is located in the Lloyd District, one of Portland’s first Eco Districts, and we’re proud our development reflects sustainability both in its location and operations,” said Wade Lange, vice president and regional manager for American Assets Trust (AAT). “Using NORM is part of our commitment to being one of the most sustainable multi‐building apartment developments yet in the city of Portland and across the region.”

The Elwood

The Elwood

Owned by AAT and designed by Portland’s GBD Architects, Hassalo on Eighth is targeting LEED Platinum certification for neighborhood development and features numerous innovative green technologies, including NORM – one of the largest natural wastewater treatment and reuse systems in an urban setting in North America.

“Hassalo on Eighth embraces Portland values — innovation, environmental consciousness —with its NORM system, incredible Bike Hub, and host of environmentally friendly features,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “It sets a bar for Portland development as we continue to push ourselves to live more sustainably.”

NORM is representative of smart “Eco-District” design principles, which take advantage of area-wide, district solutions rather than single building solutions. It also imitates developer AAT’s desire to celebrate the sustainability that is a significant part of Portland’s culture. The project was envisioned early on by AAT as integral to creating a strong sense of place on top of what was once a large asphalt parking lot.

Aster Tower

Aster Tower

“Hassalo on Eighth’s use of a Natural Organic Recycling Machine system for treatment of wastewater is a remarkable achievement,” said Roger Platt, president of the U.S. Green Building Council. “I was so pleased to visit the development this summer and to see for myself the innovative solutions being put into practice in Portland. In a city with a long history of creative problem-solving, environmentalism and smart growth, Hassalo on Eighth is proving that private industry has a vital role to play in raising the bar and keeping Oregon ahead of the curve.”

Situated at the intersection of Portland’s Streetcar and light rail systems and in an area of increasing bike infrastructure, Hassalo on Eighth also includes North America’s largest bike parking facility, with space for more than 1,000 bikes. The Bike Hub serves the building’s residents and office workers who work nearby and need bike storage and service. The Hub will have a retail presence in the development to offer valet bike parking, as well as provide repair services alongside a locker and shower facility.

The environmentally friendly features at Hassalo on Eighth include:

  • Pending LEED for Homes Platinum certification for all new construction.
  • Pending LEED ND (Neighborhood Development) Platinum certification.
  • 30 percent of annual energy savings over comparable buildings.
  • Water use is reduced by 50 percent through efficient building design and the use of NORM.
  • Green roofs and gardens that are part of the stormwater capture system, and have a net positive impact on stormwater from an existing asphalt parking lot.
  • On site rainwater harvesting garden will circulate captured water, which ebbs and flows with the seasons.
  • More than 1,000 bike parking stalls, the largest bike storage facility in North America, with valet bike parking, repairs and services.
  • Access to multiple alternative modes of transportation for car-light or car-free living.

Residents at the property began occupying apartments in the Velomor, the first building to open in July. The project’s two other buildings, Aster Tower and the Elwood Building, open in October.

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