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Portland Business Journal: PSU lands federal grant for ecodistrict energy project
Author: Wendy Culverwell
Posted: June 27, 2014

Read the original story in The Portland Business Journal

Portland State University has secured a federal grant to pay for energy upgrades that promise to transform an entire downtown neighborhood.

PSU used $2.1 million of its own money to leverage a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to support a series of projects that will improve energy efficiency in the “SoMa” neighborhood — the downtown Portland neighborhood south of Southwest Market Street.

The two-year, three-part undertaking includes:

Replacing an old boiler at PSU’s West Heating Plant with efficient new equipment.

18 campus buildings and three private buildings will get new power meters and corresponding software that will allow it to be more efficient about how it uses energy.

Staff, students and visitors will be able to visualize energy use on campus via seven 90-inch monitors paired with a high-powered computer in a "visualization theater."

“This grant will position Portland State as a leader in energy efficiency research,” said Erin Flynn, associate vice president in PSU’s Office of Research and Strategic Partnerships. “We’ve always considered our campus a ‘Living Laboratory’ for sustainable practices, but this project pushes boundaries and will provide a model for other dense urban neighborhoods across the country.”

The SoMa area is part of the city of Portland’s original EcoDistricts.

“This project investment is a significant win for SoMa and for the ecodistrict concept,” said Bob Naito in a press release.

Naito is a Portland developer, co-chair of the SoMa board of directors, and owner of a building that will receive the upgraded metering system.

“We know that having a robust district strategy for energy efficiency can be an attractor for business. This work will allow us to prove that theory while continuing to enhance the livability and sustainability of our neighborhood.”