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LEEDing the Way to a Better Community

By: Bo Oswald

While the credit markets remain tight and privately financed commercial construction is moving at a snail’s pace, one thing that continues to build momentum is the green building industry. This is no more evident than in one of the nation’s sustainable meccas, Portland, Ore. Oregon has long been known as an environmentally conscious region, but over the last decade, the region has committed itself to becoming one of the most innovative, progressive and educated development communities in America. Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design is the international standard for which sustainably built projects are judged, reviewed and certified. According to the Green Building Certification Institute, Oregon is now home to nearly 200 LEED-certified buildings. Many of the projects have been recognized nationally as being the first in their particular class or building type.

Commercial development in Portland is becoming so committed to sustainable construction that it would now be strange if a commercial project of any significance did not incorporate some sort of sustainable design element or energy savings feature. As a commercial lender, ShoreBank Pacific, headquartered in Ilwaco, Wash., with additional offices in Seattle and Portland, Ore., has committed itself to helping the region become more sustainable and to use resources in a more conscious way.

“We don’t think of ourselves as a green lender; it’s more about improving the sustainability performance of our customer,” said Erin Fitzgerald, assistant vice president, marketing director.

ShoreBank Pacific has developed an assessment tool to measure each borrower’s long-term impact on the world around them. For example, it asks whether a company can continue what it is doing for the next 100 years and still be viable. This means looking at the overall business, community, and environmental practices and impacts, and looking at how management reduces risk and ensures consistency in earnings. Fitzgerald said the assessment isn’t contingent on credit or tied to lending; it’s just something the bank feels is important.

ShoreBank Pacific was the lender of choice for the NuMiss mixed use office and retail project, which is a 19,137 square foot, three-story building located on North Mississippi Street in Portland. During the last 10 years, the North Mississippi Street area has undergone a major revitalization with the development of existing and new real estate and the opening of several trendy shops and restaurants. The NuMiss project was designed and built to use many of the most cutting edge, sustainable building products and practices.

The owner’s and architect’s goal for NuMiss was to achieve either a Gold or Platinum level of LEED certification for the building. The Platinum level is the highest possible level of certification in the LEED new construction rating system.

“The borrowers and the development team were very interested in building sustainably, but also understood the importance of keeping the bottom line in check. They were looking to develop a project that was both environmentally and economically sustainable,” said Bonnie Anderson, vice president, commercial real estate relationship officer, at ShoreBank Pacific.

The first floor of the building offers retail space facing North Mississippi Street and office space on the west side. The second and third floors offer tenant office spaces to small businesses and single working professionals. Interior finishes include a mix of painted gypsum board walls, exposed ceiling structure in all tenant spaces, sealed concrete floors and a wall covered with reclaimed wood doors in the first floor lobby.

The NuMiss project site was an existing 7,575-square-foot vacant lot located to the south of 4057 N. Mississippi St. Prior to construction, the site had undergone significant soil remediation to repair past site activities. Because of the tight setting, new project site work and landscaping improvements were minimal, with the most notable work being the installation of the east side flow through planter. The planter provides an attractive area near the entry to the building and the retail spaces, but has also been incorporated into the building’s design. The planters treat the storm water collected from the building’s roof surfaces. This design feature helps to limit the amount of storm water this building will introduce into Portland’s combined storm/sewer system. This feature significantly reduces, and during some moderate rain events, may eliminate any flow to the storm/sewer system.

The building foundation was built with conventional concrete spread footings and stem walls around the perimeter and throughout the building footprint. These footings provide foundation support for the building’s vertical structural members. The balance of the building’s structure is a combination of tube steel columns, wood Glu-Lam beams, steel buckets and wood framing. The wood framing materials were sourced from a Forest Stewardship Council-certified forest/mill. The FSC is an independent organization that promotes the responsible management of the world’s forests.

The building’s exterior is a combination of three different exterior products — brick veneer, fiber cement panels and metal shingles. The building’s numerous operable windows provide significant day lighting and also allow for natural ventilation. Both day lighting and natural ventilation are prominent sustainable construction design features. The east side of the building is lined with canopies at the entrances to the tenant spaces as well as wood decks that span the flow through planter. These decks provide access to the retail spaces and main building entry and have been built using Terra Mai “World Mix” decking. This is a mix of reclaimed and recycled hardwoods from around the world.

The tenant spaces throughout the building will be heated and cooled using what is commonly known as a “split” system. The system consists of fan coil units in the tenant spaces that are interconnected to share in the varying heat and cooling demands of the spaces. This helps to minimize the heating and cooling waste and helps to conserve energy. The heating and cooling of the main lobby/core space is provided by a rooftop heat recovery unit that is able to produce, recover and utilize excess heat from the core building spaces. Water-efficient plumbing fixtures, onsite bike parking and shower facilities have also been provided.

The roof of the NuMiss building supports a total of 24 photovoltaic solar panels. The panels produce power on behalf of the building and are able to feed the power back into the grid as a part of the building’s net metering system. This electricity production in conjunction with the building’s high-efficiency lighting will tremendously reduce the building’s energy usage.

The NuMiss project was completed in December 2009 and office and retail tenants continue to move into the building. The owner, architect, contractor and lender of the NuMiss project have provided the community with a useful development with an impressive design and sustainable construction.

Bo Oswald is a LEED Accredited Professional and the principal at Northwest Loan Monitoring LLC, Portland, Ore. For more information visit

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