Sustainable Business Oregon, a new publication from Portland Business Journal, asked Debbie Driscoll, account director at Ziba, and Eric Park, Ziba’s creative director, to address the topic of sustainable design.
Design for sustainability was almost unheard of a decade ago, but as green goes from niche to mainstream, businesses of all types are beginning to take it seriously. Whether to respond to customer demands or to express their own ecological values, companies are re-examining product lines and business practices, using terms that recently sounded sci-fi themselves. Carbon footprint. Lifecycle analysis. Design for disassembly. Sustainable design is a specialized skill, and it thrives in unique places, like the Pacific Northwest, that combine a culture of innovation with environmental awareness.
What’s surprising is that this culture arose in the absence of many traditional innovation catalysts: we boast no internationally renowned design schools, no enormous government-stimulated research parks, and while the regional arts scene is vibrant, it’s far from the global spotlight. Rather, the Pacific Northwest is innovative because innovators move here — permanently — from all over the world. Of Ziba’s 115 employees, fully 30 percent are foreign born, creating a world-class team of 18 nationalities fluent in 24 languages; most dynamic companies in the region quote similar numbers. Quality of life is a primary reason for such spectacular talent retention, proof that our sustainability focus yields more than one type of commercial benefit.
Sadly, the article doesn’t give any working examples of PNW companies using sustainable design to benefit their bottom line and reduce their impact on the environment. So, I did a bit of research…
One good example can be found at Courtyard by Marriott – Portland City Center. SERA Architects designed the rehab to achieve gold certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
The 256-room hotel was redesigned to use 28 percent less energy than a conventional building, saving the equivalent energy use of 42 household a year. And thanks to dual flush toilets in guest rooms the building reduced water consumption by 26 percent below industry standards.