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Energy efficient, sustainably built apartment opens in East Multnomah County

In early February Green Seed Apartments will starCOURTESY PHOTO: GREEN SEED CONSTRUCTION  - 3D design make-up of the Green Seed Apartments on E Burnside Street, Portland. t accepting East County residents to one of the most energy efficient multi-family apartments in Oregon. The 31 unit building will use energy saving designs and methods to provide the most environmentally sustainable housing in Oregon.

The ambitious idea to build these environmentally conscious apartments came from Portland businessman Bill Reed. With over 30 years of experience in design, Reed believed that sustainable housing was the way of the future. So, in 2018 Reed started Green Seed Construction.

Reed, wanting his new green apartments to stay local to the North West, purchased an empty lot of 16111 E Burnside St, Portland and broke ground in September of 2020.

"We do things a little bit differently over here," said Eric Authelet, Green Seed's executive assistant. "It is very different from a usual construction company. For instance, Bill doesn't subcontract a lot of things out, so most of the things have been built from our crew."

Getting green

Green Seed's plan to provide environmentally conscious housing uses many different factors that all contribute to making its new apartments sustainable.

The apartments will have 144 solar panels that COURTESY PHOTO: GREEN SEED CONSTRUCTION  - Green Seed Construction CEO Bill Reed standing near the rainwater collector in the basement of the apartments. produce 400 watts each. With that amount of production, the Green Seed Apartments can provide utilities free of charge for its residents, cover the buildings high speed internet, heating and lighting.

The building will also be cutting electrical costs through reducing heat loss. This has meant reducing wood and adding more fiberglass insulation to walls, adding sealed and insulated roof cavity to trap heat and also reduce dry rot and also simply installing triple pane windows. COURTESY PHOTO: GREEN SEED CONSTRUCTION  - Fiberglass insulation was used to conserve more energy within each unit.

Geothermal heating will also be used to help cool and heat the apartments. A series of pipes were buried in the ground where the Earth stays at a consistent 50 to 55 degrees regardless of temperature outside. This allows the Earth to act as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer. A geothermal heat pump (located inside the apartment) will capture this energy by circulating thermally conductive regular water through the buried pipes. In winter, the water absorbs heat from the warmer ground and the heat pump carries it into the building, where it enters a heat exchanging system and is used to warm the building. In summer, the same process is used to capture heat from the building and release it into the cooler ground, leaving every unit comfortably cooler.

"Another thing we are excited about is having a rainwater collector," Authelet said.

Authelet said that the rainwater collectors would be used for irrigation.

The future of housing

Although the apartment comes with many more environmentally friendly amenities including planter boxes for each resident and having electric vehicles for residents to rent out, the main goal of the apartment is to show that eclectic efficient housing is possible and affordable. COURTESY PHOTO: GREEN SEED CONSTRUCTION  - Geothermal heat exchange pipes being placed underneath the apartment.

"We really do believe this kind of housing is where we need to go," Authelet said. "In order to get there we need to make it affordable and accessible and build these buildings where people need housing."

The units at Green Seed apartments would be around $1255 a month including utilities. This would equate to a person who makes $15 an hour spending 32 percent of their income for housing.

There is also a hope with having a MAX station only about 20 feet from the building and providing residents with Tri-Met passes they way will forgo having a car and minimize monthly expenses and be more energy efficient.


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