Bend native Scott Steele, president of Steele Associates Architects (http://www.steele-arch.com), was both excited and disappointed to learn of his hometown's ranking, seeing as how he has spent much of his life and energy promoting the concept of "green building," in both word and deed.
"I'd love to be a lot higher (on the list) than that," said Steele
, who has been interested in "green design" since his
days building "Earth shelter" models at Bend High.Steele currently serves as board president for 3E Strategies (http://www.3estrategies.org/) - the three E's are ecology, economy and equity, which seeks, according to its mission statement, "to accelerate the transition to sustainable building, energy and economic practices.".
"What's neat about green, what's changed in the last five years is, it's becoming more mainstream," Steele
said, pointing to a growing number of local building projects seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications, in various categories.
"The last five years have been wonderful," he
said, and not just because he's
grown to a staff of 24, the largest architectural firm east of the Cascades.
"Clients are saying yes," he
said."Clients are asking us about (sustainable design) and asking us to do it."
Steele's firm designed a Midstate Electric Cooperative office that he
said was the first LEED building east of the Cascades, while the new Riverhouse Convention Center
is seeking LEED status under the commercial interiors area, on issues from energy efficiency to indoor air quality.
Steele Associates' own new building at Northwest Crossing "is looking excellent for LEED ,New Construction Gold,'" he
said, noting that five years ago, with an assist from Kirby Nagelhout Construction, he
brought about the region's first LEED workshop "out of my own pocket."
"I've been pushing for a more sustainable way of designing, building for all my career," he
said."With energy costs rising, people are starting to get it."
Does it cost more, initially?"The short answer is, yes," Steele
said."But the initial costs are simply not that significant.It's a no-brainer decision, usually less than 1 percent additional construction cost.Then, when you throw in saving 20 to 30 percent of energy costs over the life of a building, they pay themselves off in a few short years."
said at present, the private sector is ahead of the public sector in seeking to build in more sustainable fashion.
"I think it'd be a wonderful thing, if all public agencies and school districts in the tri-county region required sustainable, LEED-certified building," he
said, pointing to the Sisters High School project he
was involved with and the new Bend Metro Park and Rec District
administration building as prime examples.
So when it comes to figuring 48th, with several Oregon cities higher on the list, Steele
said, "I think it's great that we've been acknowledged as a community," but that it also would be "great to aspire to be in the Top 10.