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:

No comments:

Post a Comment