AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Twelve West

The carefully articulated curtain wall gives the building a thin and planar structural aesthetic. Subtle textural modifications include operable windows, balconies, quilted and recessed stainless steel of varying color, and fritted reflective semi-opaque panels which create a lively enclosure with a sense of movement.
Photo credit: Tim Hursley


  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Building type(s): Restaurant, Commercial office, Retail, Multi-unit residential
  • 552,000 ft2 (51,300 m2)
  • Project scope: a single building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed July 2009
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2.2--Level: Platinum

Rising 23 stories above the intersection of Twelfth and Washington streets in Southwest Portland, Oregon, Twelve|West is a mixed-use building designed with sustainability and ongoing learning as integral goals. The building includes street-level retail space, four floors of office space leased to a national architectural firm, 17 floors of apartments, and five levels of below-grade parking along with three roof-level terraces and gardens.

Twelve|West is located in Portland's emerging West End neighborhood with the vibrant mixed-use Pearl District directly to the north, the downtown business district to the east, and the city's arts and University districts to south. The site was chosen because of the central, transit-rich location and because of the potential to help connect these different districts and inspire further dense development in Portland's urban core.

Environmental Aspects

Twelve|West was designed to achieve the highest levels of urban sustainability, and is expected to earn a Platinum rating under both LEED for New Construction and LEED for Commercial Interiors rating systems.

Siting the building on a surface parking lot in Portland's dense urban core facilitates a pedestrian oriented, car-free lifestyle for the occupants, which minimizes required parking while increasing density, reduces stormwater runoff, and improves stormwater quality.

The design team selected low-impact materials, including salvaged, reclaimed, and FSC-certified wood. Much of the concrete building structure is exposed on the interior, minimizing the use of finish materials and providing ample thermal mass.

Energy-use reduction was a primary driver of the design. Simulations predict energy savings of 45% over a baseline code building. These savings are due to a combination of passive approaches such as daylighting, natural ventilation, and night-flush of thermal mass, and very efficient active systems. A large solar thermal array for domestic hot water and building-integrated wind turbines further add to the efficiency.

A 47% reduction in potable water use is predicted through use of efficient fixtures, low-water roof plantings, and rainwater reuse.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned by Gerding Edlen Development, Downtown Development, ZGF Architects, Corporation, for-profit
  • Typically occupied by 871 person, 66 hours per person per week; and 22 visitors per week, 2 hours per visitor per week


Transportation benefits, Stormwater management, Water harvesting, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Graywater, Massing and orientation, Glazing, On-site renewable electricity, Benign materials, Salvaged materials, Certified wood, Occupant recycling, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/19/2010

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

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