EcoVative 2010: Building it Green in Portland

This weekend the Portland Built Crew (a force of one) spent some time at the Portland Home Builder’s Association green conference, EcoVative.

The show was an interesting blend of educational seminars, presentations, and vendor exhibitions. Classes spanned a wide range of subjects, including:

  • Building Super Energy-Efficient Homes Without Breaking the Bank
  • Porous Pavement Options
  • The Energy Trust’s Energy Performance Score (EPS)
  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
  • High Performance Wall Systems

Overall, the curriculum was quite comprehensive. Attendees included veteran green builders, as well as those new to the industry. For builders looking to capitalize on the green building movement, this event presented an invaluable learning opportunity.

One of the great features of the show was the vendor exhibition hall. There were a number of manufacturers, as well as representatives from groups like Earth Advantage and Energy Trust. It was an excellent opportunity to talk one-on-one with industry experts.


In terms of prodducts, local supplier EcoHaus showed off some great paneling made from reclaimed glue-lam beams. This stuff was just gorgeous, and could be used for all sorts of architectural detailing. Anna from EcoHaus said that some customers were even using it for cabinet fronts.

Another interesting product comes from just down the road in Oregon City. EcoWarm is a hydronic radiant board system that takes the place of gypcrete or concrete as the substrate for PEX tubing. At the Live/Work project, we looked at a similar option from a company called “WarmBoard.” Ultimately, WarmBoard’s pricing was astronomically high and fell out of the running. EcoWarm is a similar product, but their pricing is unclear – the painfully bad website has some pricing info, but it’s frustrating for the homeowner. Hopefully, they’ll improve things as the company grows.

On a final note, I’d like to mention one of Portland Built’s Partners, Medallion Industries. Medallion brought several eco-friendly products to the expo, including fiberglass windows from Andersen, triple glazed windows from Atrium, and Serious Window’s advanced fiberglass offerings. If you’re considering new construction, LEED, or Passive House standards, take a look at the Medallion Website.

Alberta Mercantile: A New Live/Work Development in NE Portland

There’s a great new Live/Work project underway in NE Portland. Dubbed the “Alberta Mercantile,” the project began as a simple concrete box that once housed the Arthur Cole Candy Company.


Developer Brad Fowler contacted Portland Built several weeks ago, and we’ve had a great dialogue about his project. Folwer’s firm, Fowler Andrews, has been acquiring properties on the inner east side for the last 6 years or so. Brad claims he isn’t, “plowing new ground on Alberta” (his words) but I’d say the finished product is well worth a look.


One of the things I like about this development is the scale and scope. It’s a modest-sized building for the area, and they’ve done a nice job of making the retail buildings at a scale that works for the budding entrepreneur.

Here’s an excerpt from the project website:

We began to develop Alberta Mercantile at the start of the recession with one strategy in mind:  create small, efficient spaces targeted to the local entrepreneur.   Most business are cash-strapped when they’re just getting started or expanding and often can’t divert working capital for tenant improvements.

Each of the three Alberta-fronted retail units within the existing structure are designed to be “turn-key” spaces that require no improvements on behalf of the tenant.  These units feature an ADA-compliant restroom with utility sink, separate 3-phase electrical panel, and distribution of all systems including HVAC.  These units are 900 square feet, with an additional 375 square feet of mezzanine space.  Each unit features 22’ ceiling heights with glazed storefront roll-up doors that open directly on to Alberta Street.

Fowler Andrews has done something even more interesting in that they are pairing the livable areas with a highly visible retail option. I could see someone renting the retail space along with one of the adjoining residential areas. It’s a nice convergence, and the rental option (as opposed to the traditional purchase arrangement) creates a lower-cost alternative. Here are some images from the “living” portion of the project (entrance on 14th)

Live Work Detail


Fowler’s got some great talent along on this project. The architecture firm Vallaster and Corl Architects has some impressive work in their portfolio (and this project is certaily a great addition!). Bremick construction, the general contractor, really put on a nice fit and finish. Some of you may know them from their work on restoring the Ladd Carriage House (here’s a link to a great time lapse video as they moved the WHOLE HOUSE across the city)

We’ve put together an image gallery, but if you have some time, take a spin over to NE Alberta and look at this great project. It’s the kind of revitalization that fosters much-needed economic development in Portland.