Every now and then, I find an innovative real estate development group that just knocks my socks off. After living in Japan for 2 years, I love to hear anything about the place, so you can imagine how cool I think Sakura Urban Concepts is. Sakura is Japanese for the "cherry blossom tree," which buds in early April and you can see blossoming trees all over Japan for about two weeks. It’s incredible to see. This forward-thinking group is behind a new urban design building in Portland called Shizen, which happens to be Japanese for "nature." Not only is Shizen going to be a net zero energy building, but it’s going to have sophisticated design, sense of community, and sustainable lifestyle written all over it. Be sure to check out Shizen’s website!
This project is funded, in part, by a grant from Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development (via funds from a Green Investment Fund partnership). First, the site was home to a famous Portland Bakery, the Helen Bernhard Bakery, so Sakura purchased the property and had the house moved down the street. The house was renovated and looks pretty good. By moving the house, 200 tons of material was diverted from the landfill. The condo will have a 23 kW photovoltaic array that generates roughly 1/3 of Shizen’s annual electricity; a biodiesel fueled microturbine will generate the other 2/3 (and enough to heat domestic hot water and space heating); there will be radiant floors in entries and bathrooms; rain that falls on the roof will flow to a 25,000 gallon cistern under the parking level, and that water will be used for toilet and irrigation water; 60% of Shizen’s energy savings will be through its high mass, well insulated envelope and high efficiency lights and appliances; double-glazed, argon-filled, triple coated low-e windows will allow light and block solar gain in the summer; and the roof will be a r-38 insulation.
Shizen will be located on 1706 NE Schuyler (one block north of Broadway/NE 17th). There will be 7 units, and construction starts in March 2007. The total building will have about 15,500 square feet (so average of 2,200 square feet per residence?) and the land site is 7,500 square feet. Not bad at all…Once you go green, you don’t go back.