Montreal Home Builders Swing Through Portland after Green Building Show in Vegas

Last week First Stop hosted a delegation comprised of owners of home building companies working in Canada--mostly in Québec province.They are members of Qualité Habitation, an accreditation program working to assure the quality construction of the new homes. Its participants are accredited by Qualité Habitation as premier home builders After attending the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas, these delegates visited Portland to see green building ideas in action. They came looking for new ideas with residential projects and were also curious about home builder certification programs in Oregon.

During their time here, they toured high-end, high-density development at the South Waterfront, where they got a behind the scenes look at the Mirabella's strategies for achieving LEED Platinum. They also met for lunch with Honorary Consul of Canada, James M. Baumgartner, who shared his experiences furthering trade, educational and political relationships between Oregon and Canada. To wrap things up, the Canadians trekked to NE Portland for visits to some premier residential projects including Sabin Green and Cully Grove co-housing projects with developer Eli Spivak of Orange Splot Development and architect Mark Lakeman of Communitecture as well as the Bob and Julie Granger's amazing green residence.

Feedback from their time here?

  • Scale is important. After seeing large scale projects like Mirabella and smaller ones like Sabin Green, they understood that project scale has to work with the environment. 
  • They appreciated Eli Spivak's observation that to maintain the densities livable cities need, you'll need to be creative and sensitive about the ways you do infill in existing neighborhoods. Through conscientious design, people can get more done using less space.
  • Quebec maintains much more rigid standards for sites under construction. Portland's "informality" in this regard surprised them.
  • Successful partnerships are key to successful projects. People from different sectors in Portland seem to have good communication with each other. Recent corruption in Montreal's construction industry has brought partnerships to a screeching halt. (As one of our presenters is fond of saying, corruption is just a hidden tax on the people).
  • One delegate, when asked what most surprised him about his visit to Portland exclaimed, "It's not in America!" Sometimes it would seem so, eh?

Here are some photos from the study tour.

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