RIBEIRO IS WORKING ON A 57,000- square-foot, mixed-use structure in Independence, Ore., that's on track to win the highest score of any LEEDcertifi ed building with 64 out of a possible 70 points.
The development, dubbed Independence Station, will feature 15 residential units as well as a mix of retail and commercial space, and was about 40 percent complete at press time. “There's so much faux green, or ”˜green washing,' out there right now; a lot of developers just call themselves green,” says Ribeiro, founder of development firm Aldeia. “But with an independent and rigorous certification process, it gives the consumer trust that you've really done it.”
Independence Station will run entirely on renewable energy: solar power in the summer and biodiesel in the winter. In sunny months, the solar panels will run the buildings, store energy in large battery banks for nighttime use, and even feed energy back into the power grid. In the winter, a retired tugboat engine that operates on waste vegetable oil from local restaurants will supply power.
Aldeia is also working with Oregon State University's chemical engineering department to set up a biodiesel research lab and satellite classroom on-site, which would produce more biodiesel for the project from local camelina crops.
Additionally, enough rainwater will be stored to supply all of the building's laundry, toilet, and irrigation needs, even with a green roof and a 45-foot vertical garden in the lobby. Other green features include solar water heating, an ice-based cooling storage system, a water-based ground-source heat pump, and extensive use of light-emitting diodes.
Aldeia was able to tap into some powerful state incentives to offset the cost of this esoteric approach. Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit will pay for about 50 percent of the cost for the development's renewable energy production as well as 35 percent of the cost of energy-efficiency measures such as chillers, high-performance windows, and insulation.
Aldeia is also planning to take advantage of the Energy Star program's federal tax credits for energy efficiency, as well as incentives offered by the local Bonneville Environmental Foundation, a nonprofit focused on providing incentives for renewable energy production. “By the time you add them all up, we're going to be north of 80 percent covered on all the things we're doing here,” Ribeiro says.
The path toward the world's highest LEED certification has been difficult, though. Construction began in 2005, but when the deal's original construction lender backed away, the project lay idle. So, Ribeiro went back to the drawing board and decided to pursue LEED Platinum certification. The approach paid off: Ribeiro found a sympathetic construction lender last year in Springfield, Mass.-based Mass Mutual, which was enticed by the project's above-and-beyond green approach. Ribeiro hopes to finish by early 2010.