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Program Takes Green Emphasis to the Outdoors

Clackamas County (Oregon) industrial park is one of three Oregon pilot sites for a new rating system called the Sustainable Sites Initiative. It's also one of only three participating industrial sites in the country.
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As the owner of a 4-acre industrial park, Terrill Collier had an interest in a green rating system that looks at the entire site instead of focusing primarily on buildings. As a certified master arborist, he felt he had something to contribute.

“When you think about it, arborists are the original green people,” Collier said. “A lot of what we do is sustainable, and we’ve been doing it for years and years.”

Sustainable Sites ratings will account for how a project’s landscaping is designed, built and maintained, said Steve Windhager, director of the Sustainable Sites Initiative. The approach will complement Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

“There are projects that don’t get LEED certification because there’s not enough of a building component to them, such as parks, rail yards (and) transportation corridors,” Windhager said. “The U.S. Green Building Council has said LEED is not planning to reach out to recognize those types of projects.”

Future LEED updates will include Sustainable Sites guidelines and performance standards, Windhager said. Some of those standards that could make it into LEED ratings include those for selecting sites.

Many building projects fail to look closely at how the site itself, including the soils and vegetation, affects sustainability. “Normally sites at best do a topographical analysis and maybe a tree survey,” Collier. “This goes beyond the coarse-grained and goes much deeper. How is air quality affected? How do we design to mitigate the heat-island effect on the site?”

Collier wants to incorporate his own expertise as an arborist and former chairman of the national Tree Care Industry Association into the design and building industries. “I would like to see some of these … standards, like how to protect trees during construction,” he said. “Often, contractors view trees as two-by-fours sticking out of the ground.”

Oregon’s other two pilot sites are the Ash Creek House and the Headwaters at Tryon Creek, both classified as residential projects. The three are among 175 project sites testing Sustainable Sites guidelines and standards. The finished initiative program will roll out in 2013, Windhager said, after incorporating experiences from the pilot sites.

– Courtesy of Oregon Daily Journal of Commerce

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November 13, 2019, 7:14 pm PDT

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