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PORTLAND-Ashforth Pacific Inc will manage the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center for nonprofit developer EcoTrust. The high-profile “green” building that opens this week in Portland’s Pearl District.

The building is being marketed as a showcase for the conservation economy, bringing together environmentally savvy businesses and organizations. It features a roof-top bioswale to absorb runoff, paints with low toxicity, energy-efficient windows, certified sustainable wood products and multiple transit options. In turn, Ashforth Pacific says it will use this assignment a platform for the company to demonstrate a new management approach, one that conserves resources, minimizes pollution, and improves the health of people, the planet, and the owner’s bottom line.

“Our company feels strongly that businesses need to take the lead in resolving pressing environmental concerns,” says Hank Ashforth, CEO of Ashforth Pacific. “The Natural Capital Center will be a beacon in this community, demonstrating that — from banking to retailing to government to the very nature of our workplaces — we can create a vibrant economy in harmony with our natural surroundings.”

Ashforth launched its own environmental initiative in 1999. The company now reinvests a portion of its energy savings in clean, renewable energy, purchasing 5% of its energy supply through PacifiCorp’s Blue Sky program. The company also now has a full-time sustainability coordinator on staff to support the effort, says company president Scott Langley.

“We’re convinced that in the coming decades, buildings will all be designed and operated with environmental values in mind,” says Langley. “We’re looking to pioneer an ecologically sophisticated approach to property management that will complement the essential goals of the Natural Capital Center, and serve as a model for the future of our industry.”

As part of its effort, Ashforth says the Natural Capital Center will be cleaned with non-toxic and biodegradable products, and 100% recycled, chlorine-free paper products will be used in the restrooms. As well, to help raise building tenant’s awareness of their solid waste impacts, outgoing wastes and recyclable materials will be weighed and recorded. Utility consumption also will be tracked on a monthly basis to help gauge whether building systems are operating at maximum efficiency.

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