Capitol Hill Housing has received a $50,000 grant from the Bullitt Foundation to study the potential for creating an EcoDistrict around the Capitol Hill light rail station at Broadway and John. If the area becomes an EcoDistrict, the idea would be to expand environmentally friendly building strategies and features beyond simply one building to create an entire district dedicated to being more sustainable together.
CHH is still in the process of selecting a firm to carry out the study, and they will not know exactly what an EcoDistrict could mean for the area until the selected firm makes their assessment. However, Michael Seiwerath, Executive Director of the Capitol Hill Housing Foundation, said the heavy construction and rebuilding around the station could provide “a perfect opportunity for it.”
The Bullitt Foundation is also behind the “net-zero energy” Cascadia Center which will begin construction soon on E Madison. We’ll have more on the Center’s status soon.
CHS reported in March that the city is studying the potential for buildings near the light rail station to share a heating source using district energy. With district energy, a series of underground pipes carries energy that the buildings above it can all pull from or add to. Near the Broadway station, the system would likely involve pipes carrying hot water.
District energy could be one part of an EcoDistrict, said Seiwerath. Heavy construction on Broadway to install the streetcar — possibly starting late this year — could be an opportunity to install some of the pipes and other infrastructure in the ground.
The Portland Sustainability Institute has been active in creating several pilot EcoDistricts there. Aside from green building and retrofitting, the EcoDistricts in Portland often include green streets with vegetation to capture and clean rain water runoff. The districts also focus on creating a culture of sustainability among the people and businesses within the districts.
Here’s a video from PoSI about EcoDistricts in Portland: