By Brian Libby, Portland Architecture
Perhaps the best compliment a person can give the City of Portland’s new interactive online Green Design Atlas is to say, ‘You mean there wasn’t one already?’ It’s the kind of basic, easily accessible data and explorative tool one expects there to be but often finds missing.
Such was the case five years ago when architect Tony Tranquilli, now of Portland firm Waterleaf, was asked to give a green building tour. “I’d only been here two or three years. I didn’t have the project history,” he recalls. Soon Tranquilli, along with wife Alison Tranquilli (an architect with Scott Edwards) and a group of other volunteers, set in motion a collaborative effort to create one, attracting interest quickly from the design community and the city, first the AIA/Portland Committee on the Environment, then the Cascadia Green Building Council, Ecotrust, and the Bureau of Plannning and Sustainability. Metro and the Portland Development Commission soon climbed aboard.
But a green design atlas could mean a lot of different things. Where to begin? What would the definitions and parameters be?
“The number one thing was to map anything you have to have solid data. One of the questions all of us worked on trying to determine was, ‘What was needed? What does the community need? How do we go about finding that data? How do we create a database?’ All those questions were tied to how we were going to share this with the public,” explains Analisa Fenix, a cartographer for Ecotrust who became a key author of the map. “There were so many questions about audience and regional scale. And we didn’t want it to be static, a snapshot in time. We wanted it to be able to expand and grow as the industry grew.”
Launched last month, the Green Design Atlas (GDA), is an online map showing an inventory of local innovative, green-certified commercial buildings in the Portland metro region, including Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties. The idea is to provide a one-stop resource for developers and design professionals to market sustainable buildings and share data, thus helping to stimulate market transformation.
- Analisa Fenix, Ecotrust’s chief cartographer, helped build the atlas.