Statesman Journal reports on Pringle Creek Conservatory

The recent article, "Pringle Creek greenhouses get a facelift: Historical structures produce food and unite community, is all about Pringle Creek's two 1930s-era greenhouses being back in operation. The Statesman Journal reporter, Rachel Bucci, came out and talked with James Santana. He is quoted throughout the article.

One of the highlights of the article: an announcement that the Painters Hall Café is open! "For now Painters Hall Café, open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday, offers brewed and French press coffee (a Craigslist procured espresso maker is getting a tune-up), tea and Wild Pear box lunches if you call ahead. There is also wi-fi and an incomparable setting — a sunny deck, the soft rustling of trees along Pringle Creek, and a great view of the newly restored greenhouses."

Below are a few paragraphs about the partnerships Pringle Creek has with some local nonprofits:

At Pringle Creek's first community garden, up and running since 2005, community members and neighbors tend the plots, with extra produce donated to Marion Polk Food Share.

The now fully functioning greenhouses have enabled Pringle Creek to have an even larger impact with the Food Share. This year they used to start flats and flats of vegetables that have since been distributed and planted at MPFS sites across the region.

Another partnership, between Pringle Creek and Shangri-La's LEAP program (Life Enrichment and Activities Program), is giving developmentally disabled adult volunteers an opportunity to grow flower baskets. Three days a week the volunteers tend the baskets of fuchsia and purple hued petunias, while enjoying the therapeutic benefits of gardening.

"They've really enjoyed going down and having time to work with the plants," says project coordinator and Shangri-La's business developer Sandi Bjorkman. "Right from the get-go, they planted seeds, have been watching them grow and nurturing them. It's been quite a process and they are really enjoying it."

Santana says that some of the flower baskets will be displayed around the Pringle Creek community, while others may be sold to the public with proceeds benefiting Shangri-La.

"James Santana stands at a restored
greenhouse at the former Fairview Training Center property in South Salem."


Roofs gone wild!

Our two greenroofs are in full bloom! Here are some photos of the roof of the detached garages (for the five cottage homes on Cousteau Loop). Our other greenroof is located on the pump house for the district ground-source geothermal loop.

Greenroofs have many benefits, for instance:

  • Durability: our roofing membrane is shielded by the soil from degrading effects UV rays, so the roof will outlast shingles and metal three to five times. That saves some money over the life of a building. Our greenroof cost $5 psf to install, including roof membrane, rock, stabilizer bars, soil, plant material, seed and labor, about the same cost as metal.
  • Insulation: eight inches of soil act like a protective, insulating blanket, keeping the building cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing overall surrounding temperatures as well.
  • Habitat: the diverse plant species provide habitat for birds and pollinators, extending the boundaries of surrounding ecological systems.
  • Stormwater & streams: the roof acts like a giant sponge, absorbing rain as it falls and releasing it slowly drip by drip to the ground. Slowing down stormwater is important for returning water to the aquifer and for reducing stormwater flows on our waterways.
  • Beauty: so much prettier than asphalt shingles!

-- santiago


TED & Google Powermeter

A few weeks ago we installed some energy monitoring equipment in Painters Hall and our LEED Platinum cottage. It tracks total consumption, PV production and ground-source heat pump (HVAC) energy consumption. The results have been fascinating!

The hardware is made by TED (The Energy Detective), which comes with its own software for viewing data. But TED also communicates with Google Powermeter, a free software program that can be accessed on the internet. Owners can log in at their computer to view real-time energy use and trending over time. Also Google Powermeter can send a summary by email each week. The hardware is around $250 and comes with sensors and a wireless gateway, as well as a little wireless display that tells you in real-time what you are using and at what cost.

The above photo shows real-time energy use. We are netting -14kW on Painters Hall, overproducing about $1.80 worth of electricity per hour. This is on top of total building consumption. With real time energy display, we can isolate certain electrical loads to see what kind of power is being consumed.

Click here to see some screen shots of the google power meter system of Painters Hall and the cottage. We’ll post more about our energy savings as we get more data!

Here are some links for further reading:


While we're on the subject . . . Solar PV is going to get some attention as a political issue this year. The Statesman Journal recently ran an article, Financial incentives bolster a push for solar, about a proposed pilot program that will provide payments to some businesses and homeowners who install solar systems (after July 1).

A new pilot project will reward a select group of homeowners and businesses with monthly checks for installing solar cells. Customers of the state's largest utilities will be funding the program through their electric bills. The owner of a 3-kilowatt system, a size typically installed on homes, could get monthly payments of more than $100 during 15 years, according to the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

. . .

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski introduced the solar incentive concept to the 2009 Legislature after seeing a similar program in Germany, said Rem Nivens, a spokesman for the governor's office. The PUC recently issued rules for the four-year pilot program.

"Right now, it's just a test to see how many people will participate," Nivens said. The program will help determine if a "feed-in tariff" is a viable option to increase the use of solar power in Oregon, he said.

The folks at Tanner Creek Energy, who installed Pringle Creek's panels, might do a presentation on feed-in tariffs in the next few weeks at Painters Hall. Check back for details.

This photo was with the SJ article. It shows the solar panels on the roof of the Painters Hall



New book by Patrick Condon

Patrick Condon's new book is called Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post Carbon World. Patrick sent an email to other Pringle Creek Team members upon its publication and had this to say:

My new book is out. In it I try to simplify the complex, and boil down the work that we have all been doing into a set of simple to understand "rules". These rules are nested, meaning they represent a systems approach to sustainable cities where all things are considered together in their economic, social, and ecological relationships. There are a few things that make this book different from any other, I think:

--It recognizes cities as they are, not as we imagine they are. The concept of the streetcar city embodies this aspect.

--It compares and contrasts US and Canadian circumstances, thus shattering a number of myths about why our cities developed the way they did, and

--It recognizes the importance of green infrastructure as the very underpinnings of a sustainable high density, walkable, transit city.

Naturally SFA and Pringle Creek are a big part of the book, used to illustrate all seven principles and mostly to show a real world example of green infrastructure in action. I hope that the book helps elevate the profile of the project(s) and that more people end up knowing about what to me seems like a heroic and crucial effort.

The paragraph below is from the promotional materials:

The IPCC has declared that global greenhouse gas emissions, which are inordinately produced by North American cities, must be radically reduced by the year 2050--or risk global environmental collapse. But as the world becomes increasingly more urban, how can our cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become more energy efficient? This book clearly describes how changes in the design of our communities can achieve dramatic reductions in carbon emissions, improved livability, and the reduction of the cost of building and maintaing infrastucture systems. With specific and well-tested examples he demonstrates that it is indeed possible to create more compact, energy-efficient, pedestrian-friendly, and transit-served regions with green infrastructure systems that reduce resource consumption and pollution of all kinds.

Patrick is James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments at the University of British Columbia. He has served as friend and both technical and creative advisor to Sustainable Fairview and Pringle Creek Community. Here is our post about his previous book, Design Charrettes for Sustainable Communities.


New bike racks

We installed our Painters Hall bike racks last week, made from old steam pipe from the Conservatory. They are awesome! And already being put to good use.

Speaking of bikes, Portland, just 45 miles up the freeway, is without any doubt Bike City USA. A lot is happening there and it is fun to follow their progress. A recent On Point NPR radio show, "Bicycle culture," featured Heidi Swift, who writes the Everyday Cyclist column for the Oregonian. She also blogs at Grit and Glimmer. Ms. Swift credited the blog of Jonathan Maus, Bike Portland, with being a major catalyst, a "powerful force for connecting us [bicyclists] as a community, so that we can communicate and have discussions and bring issues to the table." She also mentioned a bike website called Ride Oregon Ride. Check them out.