ecoFLATS ARTICLE IN RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT MAGAZINE HIGHLIGHTS CREATING A LASTING MODEL FOR SUSTAINABLE MULTI-UNIT HOUSING.
What makes a company successful? For many, the answer is fairly simple: it results from the hard work of those who want to see it succeed the most. For Siteworks Design Build, based in Portland, that person is founder and president Jean-Pierre Veillet. Veillet, who has an educational background in sculpture, started Siteworks Design Build in 1994 as a small operation and focused on doing construction for other designers and architects, however, the company was soon branching out after its creation. Says Veillet, “[Siteworks] hired our own staff and began to see the efficiency of connecting design to construction for the client.” Siteworks now does both commercial and residential projects, but values both equally. “Commercial has tighter time lines, but a clear vision from experienced individuals. Residential is more home spun—like working with a friend,” he explains.
Throughout the company’s continued expansion, one thing is clear—Veillet has always been very much on board with green building. “Every single project of ours has been about being [sustainable].” He also encourages other builders in their green endeavors. “I feel like we need to address the rest of the people and encourage green building at every level of construction, especially because many things are basic enough that every project could be doing it if they had the tools and connections,” Veillet adds. He is so passionate about green building; Veillet even goes as far as to offer a list of reasons—that any company can use—why going green is valuable to the bottom line of a project (see sidebar).
The green revolution that Veillet is a huge part of is clearly evident in Siteworks’ many projects, all of which are now tied to LEED standards and guidelines. In fact, the company completed one of the original LEED projects in Oregon in 2001—the ODE to Roses Building for architect and owner Kevin Cavenaugh. “The [ODE to Roses Building] was a pioneer project that combined the challenges of small budgets, sustainable practices, and design,” explains Veillet. “It was successful on all fronts.”
LEED has clearly become a must for green building, and Veillet says that everything the company does going forward will somehow be tied to it. However, Siteworks excels by going beyond the point systems of LEED, as well as addressing other issues prevalent in design and building. “We still go beyond the point system in many ways that LEED does not quantify,” Veillet says. He adds, “With that said, there are several other non-LEED issues we are addressing in the community, such as affordability and transportation.”
One of Siteworks’ latest projects is the North Williams project, a LEED Platinum mixed-use commercial building, which will include an apartment complex and restaurant space. According to Veillet, one of the goals of the North Williams project was to create a sustainable development model. “It is a no-parking building with bike lockers at the main entry so you can put your bike away before you go up to your [energy] efficient 600-square-foot apartment. We will generate 21 kilowatts of electricity on site with solar [panels]. Our restaurant tenant will be engaging the urban farm principals as well as working with the surrounding community to create jobs and job training. We will be able to grow vegetables and herbs on site,” says Veillet.
So, how does Siteworks market itself? According to Veillet, it is mostly by word of mouth, web advertising, and small ads. However, it is clear that Siteworks’ commitment to the work and the customer is what makes them so successful in a very cut-throat industry. Says Veillet, “The clients need to be able to get what they want and can afford…This is why [Siteworks] is doing so well now. It is less expensive to the client, it is faster to do, and it represents the ability to make every project unique and creative.” He adds, “There is a sense of warmth and comfort to what were doing.” And this definitely equals success for Siteworks Design Build.
President and founder of Siteworks Design Build Jean-Pierre Veillet lays out guidelines out that connect sustainability to the bottom line. The Bottom Line for Going Green:
• If energy is a concern for the future we need to start building highly efficient building now. The cost of living is not just in the sale price or rent; energy counts every day to the bottom line.
• Design for efficiency and durability to save on maintenance costs therefore saving in the future.
• Save construction cost by not having unnecessary items, such as conditioned common areas.
• By removing an elevator and planning ADA units on the ground floor, you can save construction costs, energy consumption and ADA requirements on the upper floors which saves costs normally passed on to tenants and buyers. Therefore, you are more affordable.
• Giving plenty of daylight to save electricity and making the space more livable save energy and can be more affordable.
• Use concrete floors for durable and dependable lasting structures and finishes. This saves cost on carpeting, replacement and maintenance.
Jean Pierre Veillet is a Portland-based artist, designer, and builder. Trained as a sculptor, Veillet takes a spatially informed, socially conscious, and aesthetically thoughtful approach to projects from tiny retail renovations to ground-up eco-developments. With his firm, Siteworks, Veillet has taken his background in site-specific art and mixed it with a serious shot of writing, poetry, and experience to produce spaces that communicate with people through objects, design, and elegance. Veillet is intrigued by the intimacy that can be created between people and their environments, and by the possibilities of social engineering on a much larger scale. As a developer, Veillet is working on Ecoflats, a green project that incorporates environmentally sensitive elements from a standard curbside recycling program to a reward-based integration of the building’s social scene with its energy credits. He has completed warm interiors for restaurants like Genoa, historically referential interiors for Pearl District clothing stores like Lizard Lounge, and dramatic exterior renovations, and is currently pushing Sitework’s development projects side by side with his own creative passions.