Trade Ally of the Month: SERA Architects

Trade Ally of the Month: SERA Architects

As an Energy Trust New Buildings ally, SERA Architects designs high-performance, sustainable buildings. SERA helps building owners maximize the energy-efficiency and renewable energy opportunities available in new commercial construction or major building renovations, including through participation in Energy Trust’s innovative Path to Net Zero offering.

A recent project for SERA was the renovation of the Blanchet House of Hospitality, a 60-year-old Portland nonprofit that had outgrown its cramped century-old home. Executive Director Brian Ferschweiler turned to SERA to design a new, larger building that would allow Blanchet House of Hospitality to serve more people.

“Since most of the food and labor at the Blanchet House is donated, 80 percent of its operating costs came from utility bills,” said Lisa Petterson, director of sustainability resources, SERA. “We realized anything saved on utilities would allow more meals to be served. That became the driver and why we chose Energy Trust’s Path to Net Zero.”

Energy Trust provided early design assistance and more than $59,000 in cash incentives for high-performance design strategies for the building envelope, heating, cooling and ventilation system, lighting and kitchen equipment.

Crucially, the building beat Oregon’s ambitious code for energy efficiency by approximately 50 percent—without expensive features or complicated technology. A super insulated building envelope was a key strategy that SERA plans to apply to future projects.

The building renovation also earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® Platinum rating. Lessons from the Blanchet House of Hospitality will advance net-zero design practices in Oregon and help Energy Trust support other projects interested in Path to Net Zero.

Read more about SERA in Energy Trust’s 2012 Annual Report website.