GREEN INVESTMENT FAILURE
August 3, 2010
Building "green" is all the rage in Portland, Ore. Eco-roofs and solar panels have become routine, and now the goal is for "net-zero" buildings that consume less energy or water than they produce. However, while the idea is green, expect red. The City of Portland's last attempt to promote net-zero construction ended in a subsidized spending spree, says the Cascade Policy Institute.
In 2005, the Green Investment Fund was established as a competitive grant program, awarding money for five years to spur green building. Enormous government subsidies were required for most grantees, says Cascade:
- DaVinci Arts Middle School, the only project to actually achieve net-zero energy, was realized because of $500,000 in community-donated services.
- The June Key Delta House, a proposed net-zero community center, received over $400,000 in Portland Development Commission (PDC) grants and loans.
- The Blanchet House of Hospitality, also hoping for net-zero energy, is enabled by a $2 million PDC grant and land swap.
Other subsidized Green Fund projects failed miserably, says Cascade. Construction never began on the million-dollar Shizen condominiums or the Kenton Living Building, both net-zero energy contenders.
Now the city wants to build the Oregon Sustainability Center, a $90 million high-rise near Portland State University. The proposed net-zero building would require $80 million in university bond revenue, $6 million from the city, and various other subsidies. Yet even then, the rents would be the most expensive of any office building in the state, says Cascade.
Source: Rebecca Steele, "Green Investment Failure," Cascade Policy Institute, July 17, 2010.
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