ULI Northwest: Burnside Boardwalk project focuses on energy efficiency and solar energy production

The Burnside Boardwalk focuses on energy efficiency and solar energy production.

By Glumac March 23, 2022
Courtesy: Glumac

To see innovation on display, take the Blue Line on Portland’s light rail train to the East 162nd station. Directly across the street is Burnside Boardwalk, a carbon-neutral, affordable housing project that is expected to be complete by the end of 2021.

SEED LLC, the firm building Burnside Boardwalk, began the project with a focus on both energy efficiency and solar energy production. To reach its goals, the developer took major steps to reduce energy use to almost zero—and then it added 45 kVA of solar panels to the roof.

Bill Reed, CEO of SEED and the designer of Burnside Boardwalk, says the solar array is estimated to produce 13% more energy than the units will use, so the extra energy will likely go to the commercial spaces and an electric vehicle charging station located on the ground floor. He is constantly looking to develop more energy-efficient buildings.

“My whole objective is to cut as many watts as I can,” said Reed, who has been working in the architecture and construction field for about 40 years. “If it uses watts, we have got to figure out how to stop using them.”

Courtesy: Glumac

By working with Energy Trust of Oregon early in the design process, Reed is expecting to be able to cut the building’s predicted energy use intensity (pEUI) score down to about a third of the EUI of a normal building.

To help cut energy use even more and keep operational costs low, the 31-unit multifamily building will feature advanced, energy-efficient design techniques such as a geothermal heat pump, foil face foam insulation, energy-recovery ventilators, heat pump water heating and motion-detector lighting.

In addition, those energy-saving features and the building’s use of cost-effective durable materials will help keep rents affordable for tenants: $855 a month, including utilities. For reference, the average rent for a studio apartment in Portland without utilities is $1,156, according to Multifamily NW’s fall 2020 Apartment Report. Burnside Boardwalk’s proximity to public transportation also reduces the need for a vehicle, further decreasing costs for tenants while increasing accessibility.

To engage with future tenants and encourage energy saving habits, each unit will feature a comprehensive monitoring web-based system accessible through a phone app that will show tenants how much energy they are using individually and overall as a group.

Reed is looking forward to the project generating more interest in energy efficiency among a wider audience. “Energy efficiency should be more publicized and looked at. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what costs money and what doesn’t cost money.”

This article originally appeared on Glumac’s website. Glumac is a CFE Media content partner.

Original content can be found at glumac.com.