Building Tenants Team to Fight Global Warming Pollutant

Building Tenants Team to Fight Global Warming Pollutant

Business, non-profit organization, and government tenants of the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center have joined with The Climate Trust and Bonneville Environmental Foundation to initiate a landmark partnership to slash the carbon dioxide emissions generated from the tenants’ energy use. The team of tenants will reduce the energy footprint of the Natural Capital Center by 65% through a two pronged strategy: a donation of funds for the generation of carbon offsets, and through a purchase of green tags.

Tenants of the Natural Capital Center have formed a volunteer committee to tackle the issue of the building’s climate impacts. Indigo Teiwes-Cain of Progressive Investment Management chairs the Energy Working Group and says: "Our goal is two-fold. We want to make a significant effort to further reduce the building’s greenhouse gas emissions (which is already at low levels due to the building’s high energy efficiency) but we also want to create a model for how other buildings with multiple tenants can tackle this issue. The collaboration on this project is wonderful."

Participating tenants will donate funds to The Climate Trust to help expand an Oregon project that improves the energy efficiency of apartments and commercial buildings. The agreement will enable The Climate Trust to expand its project with Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development that provides almost $1 million to reduce energy use and related emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the heat-trapping gas largely responsible for global warming.

"The energy use of buildings produces over 40% of greenhouse gases. This collaboration of Natural Capital Center tenants to collectively reduce our impact is a critical step in reducing global warming. Through broad participation, the cost to each individual organization is minimized." said Bettina von Hagen, Vice President of Natural Capital Funds and Strategic Initiatives for Ecotrust, the owner of the Natural Capital Center and a building tenant. "We hope other commercial buildings in Portland will follow our lead."

"We applaud these organizations and businesses for cooperatively setting the example of significantly offsetting their operational emissions. Models like this are critical to preventing rapid climate change from escalating to run-away climate change," said The Climate Trust’s executive director, Mike Burnett.

All building tenants are participating in the program to reduce their annual CO2 emissions by 66 percent through The Climate Trust’s Giving to Protect the Climate program. That’s equal to 306 metric tons of CO2 emissions from burning coal and natural gas, or the equivalent emissions from driving a car 674,686 miles.

The group of tenants will also reduce their CO2 emissions by purchasing 25 percent of their electricity from wind power through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s Green Tags program. This is the equivalent of avoiding the emission of an additional 115 metric tons or the equivalent emissions from driving a car 254,381 miles. Green Tags represent the offset in emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants that occur when renewable energy replaces traditional forms of power generation. BEF Green Tags, which are certified by Green-e and The Climate Neutral Network, come from new wind and solar resources endorsed by three regional environmental groups. One Green Tag equals the production of 1 megawatthour of renewable, non-polluting electricity and offsets 1,400 pounds of emissions. The net revenue from selling BEF Green Tags is invested in the next new renewable energy project.

Dave Moskowitz of the Wild Salmon Center said, "Our participation in this program, and our commitment to wind and solar power is in obvious alignment with our organization’s goal to ensure a sustainable future for wild salmon across the Pacific Rim."

Over the next five years the Portland Office of Sustainable Development Energy and Green Building Divisions will use the Natural Capital Center donation and The Climate Trust funding to work with the owners of over 12,000 apartment units and about 40 commercial buildings statewide to improve energy efficiency. This offset project leverages existing funds to provide technical expertise and facilitate access to financial incentives. Apartment building tenants will benefit from $50 million in reduced energy bills and increased comfort, while owners will improve property value and unit marketability. Furthermore, this program is expected to stimulate the local economy by creating over 20 skilled jobs in Oregon. The statewide project reduces emissions of carbon dioxide by reducing electricity use and the need to burn coal and natural gas to generate the power.

"Our collaborative effort empowers the business community, non-profits, and government agencies to take responsibility for its global warming pollutants and be part of the solution to rapid climate change," said Sean Crosby, manager of the building’s Patagonia store.
The Natural Capital Center tenants that have teamed to cut their CO2 emissions include Progressive Investment Management, the Wild Salmon Center, Ecotrust, the Ecotrust Conference Center, City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development, Patagonia, The Lemelson Foundation, Pearl Arts Foundation, World Cup Coffee, Certified Forest Products Council and Ashforth Pacific, the property manager. Their intent is to turn the project into an ongoing program to significantly reduce and mitigate the building’s energy footprint.

Their collective donation supports The Climate Trust’s Greenhouse Gas Partnerships. The growing program allows the Trust to expand projects in its offset project portfolio, while holding the rights to the offsets in trust for benefit of the environment. By retiring the offsets from any future emissions trading system, other emitters cannot purchase the offsets to permit additional carbon dioxide emissions.

The Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center is a restored 70,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Portland’s Pearl District, redeveloped by Ecotrust in 2001 to serve as a marketplace for the ideas, products, and services of the emerging conservation economy. This historic building serves as the headquarters for many for-profit and non-profit organizations in a diverse array of sectors including salmon conservation, sustainable forestry, responsible investing, sustainable agriculture, sustainable urban design and development, clothing, and adventure travel. The Natural Capital Center includes a state-of-the-art conference and event center. It is the first historic building in the country to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s gold rating, which considers such factors as siting, materials, energy performance, water efficiency and indoor air quality.