World’s Greenest Building on Track for 2010 Completion

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorIndependence, Ore.—Independence Station, a 57,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use development, is on track to become the world’s greenest building with the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating ever awarded for new construction.At its completion, which is slated for early 2010, Independence Station is expected to earn between 64 and 66 points, out of a possible 69 points, and is designed for LEED Platinum certification.“We are creating not just a concept, but something that’s real, something where someone can live and work and incorporate transportation in a smart package,” says Steven Ribeiro, principal of Independence, Ore.-based Aldeia Development LLC, the developer of the project.Designed by Ankrom Moisan Architects, the $15 million Independence Station, which is expected to exceed the Oregon Energy Code by 74 percent, will include 15 condominiums, nearly 18,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 11,900 sq. ft. of office space and a 4,600-sq.-ft. biofuels research facility for Oregon State University’s chemical engineering department. In addition, the project is offering virtual office space, providing “trophy addresses” for companies that have green initiatives, explains Ribeiro.As part of the project, a biodiesel-run bus will run locally, and Ribeiro notes the possibility of having electric cars available onsite. Independence Station, which broke ground in early 2004, was stalled due to a lack of funding, but Ribeiro notes that it is now back on track, with financing from Mass Mutual, and it is currently 40 percent complete.The 15 available residences will range in size from 600 to 1,660 square feet and in price from the $300,000s to the $600,000s. Units will feature energy and resource dashboards that will allow residents to monitor their usage. Ribeiro believes that the project, which is located at the official end of the Oregon Trail, will attract “15 21st-century pioneers” who will compete with their neighbors to use the least amount of energy.Independence Station’s notable green features include its use of renewable energy sources—primarily from the sun and recycled vegetable oil—as well as the site’s Smart Grid. “We will be the most comprehensive Smart Grid ever built,” Ribeiro tells MHN, explaining that the electricity used throughout the development will be produced at off-peak times, stored, and used as needed, providing the grid more capacity. He predicts that Independence Station will not only deliver its own power, but also will be able to provide energy back into the grid.The project will feature a 130 kilowatt installation of photovoltaic panels, which will produce enough energy to run the building, store extra energy in a large battery bank for night use and feed power back into the grid. In cloudier months, the building will rely on a biodiesel-fueled system, which will run on waste vegetable oil from local restaurants.Currently, Ribeiro uses a 1930s-style diesel generator, fueled by vegetable oil, to light the construction site and power the construction tools. He also purchased a former tug boat engine to be the main generator in Independence Station. Captured and stored heat from the engine will be the main source of heat for the building.Other green features include radiant floor heating and cooling, high-efficiency displacement ventilation, solar water heating, day lighting design, an ice-based cooling storage system, water-based ground source heat pump and use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Additionally, enough rainwater will be stored in the winter to supply 100 percent of the building’s needs for laundry, toilets and irrigation.“This is a real breakthrough, and it’s funny because we are doing it with easy technology,” asserts Ribeiro, explaining that most of it is based on “junior high school physics.” He believes that Independence Station can be a true model for future green development.In addition to the neighborhood retail that is expected to lease space, Ribeiro says that Independence Station will feature “a retail educational facility, where manufacturers of the latest [green] products can showcase their wares” to local residents and educate others on how to green existing homes.