Biodiesel to fuel "World's Greenest Building"

By Anna Austin | April 15, 2009
Independence, Ore., residents wishing to gain some environmentally friendly ground will soon have the opportunity to lease space at Independence Station, a facility which its developers have dubbed the "world's greenest building."

Nearly 50 percent complete in April, the $15 million building is expected to be finished by early 2010. It will house 15 condominiums and multiple office spaces and retail stores, possessing a multitude of green characteristics including rainwater collection and reuse, extensive day lighting, composition from recycled and reclaimed building materials and components, and power generated from biodiesel.

The 57,000 square-foot building is also expected to be awarded the highest rating recorded by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, according to main project developer and owner Aldeia LLC.

The LEED rating system, which is developed by United States Green Building committees, is designed to guide and distinguish high-performance commercial and institutional projects, including office buildings, high-rise residential buildings, government buildings, recreational facilities, manufacturing plants and laboratories. Out of a possible 69 points,
Independence Station is expected to score at least 64.

Besides residential and business space, the building will also house facilities for biofuel production, education and research. Aldeia plans to collect yellow grease from local restaurants in order to produce biodiesel on site, which will fuel seven Cummins Inc. generators. "We have plans to work with the chemical engineering department at Oregon State
University, so our personnel plans are small," said Steven Ribeiro, Aldeia principal developer. "I will be involved in the production personally, and have purchased a 3,000-gallon retired home heating oil delivery truck that has been logoed up as 'Energy for Independence'."

Ribeiro said he has made arrangements with the local restaurants to collect their waste oil year-round, in exchange for an endorsement from Aldeia and table tents explaining that the restaurants are helping to support the World's Greenest Building with their waste oil.

B99 will also be purchased from SeQuential-Pacific Biofuels, a Portland, Ore.-based biodiesel provider. "We will use a smaller amount in the summer when the PV (photovoltaic) panels produce the most amount of power and our heat needs are low, and more in the cool winters here," Ribeiro said. "We are very close to SeQuential Biofuels, so we always will have a supply assured."

The anticipated annual utility savings of Independence Station is expected to be approximately 92 percent, when compared to a typical code-compliant building of the same size and type. The project was awarded the "Spirit of the West Award" for the best mixed-use green building by BUILDERnews Magazine.

Aldeia has two additional LEED projects in Kuna, Idaho, and Moreno Valley, Calif. Other Independence Station project partners include general contractor and project manager Johnson Controls, and Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects, the architect of record.

Aldeia's work with biodiesel doesn't end with these projects. Ribeiro said the company is also currently involved with algae-derived biodiesel developer Green Star Products Inc. "They are currently putting together a total biorefinery project in Idaho that will totally close the energy loop using non-food feedstocks for both ethanol production and for biodiesel production, as well as several valuable byproducts," he said. "They are blazing the trail for real energy independence, and we are blazing the Smart Grid and hyper energy conservation trail towards the same end-where else are you going to find a hybrid biodiesel condo?"

Ribeiro said the company's goal is for residents in the building to live much better than the average American, but to do so on just 17 percent of the energy that the average American consumes. "I'm referring to their complete lifestyle," he said. "Independence Station will be the highest performing Smart Grid building to come out of the ground anywhere."
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