Friday, January 28, 2011

More press for ecoFLATS! featured in Cascadia GBC's quarterly magazine Trim Tab

"The Path to Net Zero: Oregon's Story"
by Sara Feldman

ecoFlats, slated for occupancy in spring 2011, combines
eighteen apartment units with ground floor retail space
on North Williams Ave, within Portland’s Interstate
Urban Renewal Area. Developer Jean-Pierre Veillet,
owner of Portland design/build firm Siteworks, and
his partner Doug Shapiro set out to reinvent an underutilized
property as a model for sustainable, community-
orientated and affordable high-performance design.

On track to achieve a net-zero energy standard for the
residential portion of the building, the project encompasses
energy-saving and power-generating tactics,
including a common hydronic heating system, a 20
kilowatt solar electric array, an energy-efficient building
envelope, ample day-lighting and thermal collectors
to provide hot water for the entire building. The
apartments are also accessible from an exterior loggia,
which helps avoid the high heating and cooling costs
typically associated with internal circulation spaces.

While the building exemplifies sustainable living, one
looming variable keeps the partners up at night: the
future residents. Will they operate as a community
to do, as Veillet says, “what’s right,” in terms of meeting
the net-zero energy goal? Betting on peer pressure
to encourage responsible energy use, Veillet plans to
install a visual energy monitoring system inside the
main building entry. Each unit will be monitored individually
against a baseline energy goal, with every
unit’s usage visible to all. Along with the power of peer
pressure, the partners are considering an incentive system
to reward those who meet energy goals, as well as
individual energy consultations for those who want to
slash their energy use but are not sure how.

“If we truly want to decrease energy use, we have to
target buildings. But we can not just focus on machines
and technology, the individual has to participate,” says
Veillet. “It’s this social piece and getting people to work
together that will make the building a success. This
is a prototype for other designers and builders to get
people to participate in the pursuit of a common goal,
which is simple, guilt-free living.”

To view Trim Tab online, please click on the link below:

ecoFLATS featured in Sustainable Business Oregon

Eco Flats: net-zero apartments nearing rent-ready

by Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon

Eco Flats in Portland
Apartments at Eco Flats will start renting this March, the culmination of a groundbreaking project to build a multi-family building to net-zero standards.

But beyond building green, Jean-Pierre Veillet, owner of Siteworks Design Build, has plans in place to make sure the building, located at 3395 N. Williams Ave., runs at maximum efficiency even after the tenants move in.

Eco Flats is one of 15 building projects aiming toward net-zero operations through a pilot program launched in 2009 by Energy Trust of Oregon.

"It's one of the furthest along of the projects," said Becky Walker, program manager for Energy Trust's Path to Net Zero pilot. "It's one of only three multi-family projects and the only one renting to tenants."
Path to Net Zero recruits developers willing to aim for buildings that are 60 percent more efficient than Oregon building code requires.

Eco Flats solar

Veillet, who had experience with LEED building and was featured in the New York Times in 2009 for his eco-friendly work on a pop-up store for Portland-based Nau, set out to build a net-zero apartment building with the idea that the less of the building there was, the more efficient it would be. The building's common areas are outside, allowing for more natural light inside the building and reducing its carbon footprint from the outset.

"The best way to save energy is to eliminate the need to consume it," Veillet said. "For thousands of years we didn't have gizmos to regulate the environment. A lot of the building is proper for the geography that we’re in."
Sitting on the North Williams bike corridor, the building trades bike storage for a parking garage. Zipcar will stage two cars at the building. The 18-unit building features an ultra-efficient heating system and will use rooftop solar panels to heat the building's water.

Tenants will pay a monthly bill that includes all utilities and will be able to earn rewards — such as beer at the Hopworks brewery location moving in on the ground floor of the building or meals at local restaurants — for energy efficient habits. Veillet said the rents will be comparable to others in the neighborhood — building a highly efficient building at standard costs to keep it affordable was built into the Eco Flats plan from the beginning.

Eco Flats Portland

“If you can build for standard cost, you can charge standard rents,” he said.

The project was 50 percent bank financed with 25 percent coming through Portland Development Commission financing — Eco Flats is in the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area — and the final fourth of funding came from a combination of Veillet’s own backing and a private investor.

Siteworks' next projects include an expansion of the Hopworks Urban Brewery on Southeast Powell Boulevard, aiming to triple its brewing capacity, and a headquarters project for Web agency iSITE Design. The company has nine employees and after two flat years, Veillet sees business heating up in 2011.
As he puts it: "It's back to 2007-style." | 503.219.3438
link to original article:

Monday, January 24, 2011

ecoFLATS featured in Portland Monthly Magazine

Future Flats

A buzzing bike boulevard sprouts ambitious eco-apartments

Illustration: Rendering by Jean-Pierre Veillet
"Back in 1997, when young art-school graduate Jean-Pierre Veillet worked out of a studio on N Williams Avenue, the area was so desolate he recalls feeding roaming dogs in the junkyard next door.
Today, that junkyard is home to a new apartment building that could help bring green building to the masses. ecoFLATS, developed by Veillet’s Siteworks firm with other partners and investors and slated to open March 1, aim to be Portland’s first net-zero apartment building. That means meeting residents’ power needs through conservation and generation, with the ultimate goal of drawing no wattage from the grid. Built for standard costs (about $3 million total), the ecoFLATS will rent for between $1,000 and $1,200 per month for units of 650 or 750 square feet.

Veillet hopes the design becomes a prototype. “We can spend trillions to rebuild our grid system,” the 39-year-old developer says, “or we can make buildings that actually exist off the grid.” Here are a few ways the ecoFLATS try to redefine apartment living.


Solar power and water conservation

Rooftop solar collectors will heat the ecoFLATS’ water supply, while aerators on faucets and showerheads, low-flow toilets, and dishwashers (more efficient than hand-washing!) could cut daily water usage to half the Portland average.


No air conditioning

Instead, units feature windows on opposite ends, creating cross-ventilation. Ample sunlight will reduce lighting demand, while a sun screen along the east-side exterior corridors will filter rays to keep units cool.



Baseboard radiators, made of sleek aluminum and copper, will distribute heat provided by the shared boiler. “This isn’t new technology,” Veillet says. “It’s just much more efficient technology.”



With no auto parking, but located on one of the city’s busiest bike corridors, the building features ample bike storage and a dedicated maintenance room.


Exterior corridors and common areas

Outdoor communal spaces demand no heating and less lighting. Rick Potestio, an architect who collaborated with Veillet on the original concept, borrowed from 17th-century Italian loggias.


Peer pressure

A monitor in the lobby will show how much energy each unit is using and how close the whole building is to meeting its net-zero goal."

 To view the original article, please click on the link below:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tesla test drive

"I have been to the Future, and it is good!"
- Jean-Pierre Veillet

ISITE Design

Siteworks is currently working with ISITE Design on the conceptual design of their new office space in NW Portland. Here are some teaser images of what we are working on:

reusing old shipping containers for innovative office cubicals

Hopworks coming to ecoFLATS

As stated in the recent article from, Hopworks Urban Brewery is planning on adding a second restaurant location in the larger ground floor commercial space at ecoFLATS. We are proud and honored to have Hopworks become a member of the ecoFLATS family.

Hopworks plans new location on N Williams Ave

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 18th, 2011 at 10:37 am

Hopworks would occupy a street-level spot in this new building on N. Williams. (Photos © J. Maus)
"Nearly a year after we first noted the bike-oriented development, taking place on N Williams Avenue, the trend is as strong as ever. Today we confirmed that, while the ink's not quite dry on all the paperwork, Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) plans to be the latest bike-friendly business to open up on the street (thanks to PDX Eater for the tip).

                                The banner is already flying.
I caught HUB owner Christian Ettinger on the phone this morning. He said he's still working out some details, but it's "pretty much guaranteed" that they're moving into a spot in the new "bike-centric" EcoFlats building that is currently under construction between N. Failing and Shaver streets. HUB will be neighbors with Queen Bee Creations and United Bicycle Institute.

EcoFlats is notable because developer Jean-Pierre Veillet is aiming to make it the "first mixed-use residential building in the nation to achieve a net-zero energy status," according to the Daily Journal of Commerce. The building will also be oriented to tenants who use a bicycle as their primary mode of transport. 

For Ettinger — one of the nation's premier craft brewers, a bike racer, and a major supporter of the local bike scene — the location on Portland's best bike street is a natural fit. "For us, it's just such a great fit to be right next to UBI, on the bike highway, in a net energy zero building. It makes sense on many levels."
Like his current location on SE Powell Blvd near 29th, the new HUB on Williams will feature many bike-centric touches.
Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show-17
Ettinger behind his 'Bike Bar' at the
2009 Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show.
Ettinger says he's building a bike canopy over the bar which will feature Oregon-made frames donated from members of the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association. "Imagine 30 frames worth $3,000 over your head." (The Southeast HUB has a bike canopy, but it's made out of free-pile bikes.) There will be parking for 50 bicycles in the back of the restaurant and Ettinger says he's building something called, "the pulpit" facing the sidewalk. "We'll have a drink rail along the sidewalk where you'll be able to sit and watch bikes go by on Williams."
Ettinger is currently looking for an kinetic sculpture artist who can help him make a bike-powered sculpture that people can power while they're at the bar or waiting for a table.
The lease on the new location is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks. The building is nearing completion and construction is expected to be completed by this spring. Stay tuned for more details once opening day gets closer."

To view the original article please click on the link below:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ecoFLATS featured in Solar Oregon

 A recent article by Linda Barnes of Marryman Barnes Architects, highlights ecoFLATS' 21 kW pv array, 500 gallon solar thermal system, and it's goal of achieving a net-zero energy standard.  

"ecoFLATS, Portland - the First Net Zero Apartments in the U.S."
By Linda Barnes
Architect, Marryman Barnes Architects, Inc.
Solar Oregon Board President

"Jean-Pierre Veillet, owner of Siteworks, a Portland design-build company, has high expectations for his first development project. ecoFLATS, their new building on North Williams is designed to be the first mixed-use residential apartment building in the nation to achieve a net-zero energy status. The four story building contains 18 apartments and a roof top array of PV panels and a roof trellis with solar thermal panels. Between the 21 kW PV system, the 500 gallons of solar thermal collection, and the energy efficient features, the total energy needs of the building’s residential and commercial tenants should be met on an annual basis.


The project started with the goal of being a net zero building and also aims for a LEED gold rating. From the start, the design was fine tuned to be energy efficient and responsive to our mild northwest climate. Each floor of apartments has a covered logia entry instead of the typical central hallway. This old design with wonderful modern design features means heating less building area and that the individual apartments can have cross ventilation and better day lighting.  Combined with higher ceilings, external/internal shading for the east and west sun exposure, and ceiling fans, the need for cooling has been reduced saving the cost of installing air conditioning systems. With all the shared walls, the heat loss has also been minimized. Compared to a typical apartment, the design features alone result in a project that uses 1/3 of what a typical apartment would.  Adding to the low- energy design are energy efficient appliances, lighting, and gas water heaters. A high efficiency gas boiler operates the common hydronic heating system. Future improvements may include flue gas heat recovery and vent hood heat recovery for the new first floor restaurant tenant.

Selected as one of the 15 projects in the Energy Trust’s Path to Net Zero pilot program, the building aims to achieve far more than the 50% reduction to Oregon’s Building Code program goal while attempting net zero energy use for apartment dwellers. Designing net zero for tenants focused the design team on the psychological and social aspects that can help make residents more energy knowledgeable and incentivize positive behavior. The feedback will come in the form of monitoring and information panels at the building entrance tracking everyone’s energy and water use for each individual apartment and monitoring the energy production of the solar systems.  The psychological push of being compared to all the other tenants will be augmented by tenant training and a creative rewards system.

Veillet worked with Imagine Energy for the solar design, engineering, and installation from the beginning of the project.  Solar thermal was the no-brainer – it was the cost-effective best solution for energy production for the
apartments with their high water usage.  The system is designed to provide all the domestic hot water needs for the apartments. Veillet feels that solar makes sense now and is a technology we need to invest in. He feels that market- rate rents should include energy efficiency and renewables.


As one of the few solar thermal projects, Veillet feels it is not something you can walk in and do right now. There aren’t good models out their yet and the incentives are complex.  His advice to other developers is to be very strategic about your incentives. He negotiated the loop holes and pit falls working with George Hughes, of Hoffman, Stewart & Schmidt, an accountant who is specifically geared to working with Oregon and Federal energy incentives

Situated in the vibrant N. Williams Corridor, with mass transit, retail, and popular restaurants, ecoFLATS is designed to appeal to the demographics of the bike-centric neighborhood. Some of the 3,500 bicyclists who use the N. Williams corridor each day may find a convenient home and society with compatible values at ecoFLATS. The building was designed to foster bicycle riding and has no associated parking. Secure bike lockers, a communal shower, and a bicycle maintenance shop are features planned to encourage non-auto transportation modes.  And, with the net zero energy and other sustainable features, the building goes a long way towards assisting tenants in lowering their own personal carbon footprints.

Veillet sees ecoFLATS as a model for net zero apartments, a low-energy design utilizing basic technology  and good design common sense that could also be applied to student housing, workforce housing, and off-grid agricultural housing. 

Leasing for ecoFLATS starts in March of 2011. Soon Siteworks will be finished with the construction of this project and on to their next exciting project– the most energy efficient brewery in the U.S."

To view the original article, please click on the link below:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Solar Thermal up and running at ecoFLATS

The Solar Thermal panels have been mounted and installed at ecoFLATS. These thermal collectors will generate ALL domestic hot water for the 18 apartments. The wood trellis is constructed out of reclaimed beams that came out of the original single story building. Great job Image Energy!