PORTLAND, Ore. - One of Oregon's new signature research centers, the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center, or Oregon BEST, is investing $480,000 in 10 Oregon university faculty teams whose work could fuel the state's growing sustainability and renewable energy sectors.

This funding is designed to kick-start several sustainability-related projects in Oregon that can be fast-tracked toward commercialization, leading to new companies, products and jobs for Oregonians.

"Oregon Best" is supporting the innovative work of high caliber faculty at our universities because their work builds on Oregon's strengths in renewable energy and green building materials and services," said David Kenney, executive director of Oregon BEST. "This investment will help power Oregon's growing economic engine that is based on sustainable technologies and services."

The new funding will help bring together Oregon BEST's member universities - the Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, and the University of Oregon - and the state's business community, government agencies and other organizations in order to stimulate economic growth in both urban and rural Oregon.

According to the Oregon Innovation Council, or Oregon InC, the renewable energy industry in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia is projected to reach $2.5 billion over the next 20 years, creating thousands of jobs. The rapidly growing sustainability sector will also add new companies and jobs.

Oregon BEST was tasked last year by the Oregon legislature and Oregon InC with making the state a national leader in sustainable technology development in green building materials, green building services and renewable energy generation.

"Moving forward, Oregon BEST will continue to invest strategically in opportunities where Oregon's academic expertise intersects with this state's growing sustainability sector," Kenney said. "This ongoing investment will fuel economic development all across Oregon as we build world-class research teams that partner with Oregon's green building and clean energy industries."

The BEST-supported research teams are all affiliated either with green building technologies and services or clean energy generation. Funded projects are expected to speed commercialization of research into new companies, products and jobs; or develop shared facilities that will serve Oregon's faculty and students as well as the state's business community.

The projects range from solar cells, green roofs and biomass processing to green building insulation made from recycled plastics, improved wind turbine design and biodiesel production powered by solar energy.

Some of the new equipment enhancements to the shared research facilities will include a solar simulator, a device that simulates the sun's illumination and is used advance solar cell research; equipment for improved processing and analysis of biomass being transformed into bioproducts and biofuels; testing equipment needed to improve the conversion efficiencies of photovoltaic solar energy devices; and enhancements to an environmental wind tunnel used to study the efficiency of green roofs.

A detailed list of the funded projects and associated researchers at Oregon universities can be found at the Oregon BEST website, http://oregonbest.org .

As a part of Oregon InC's 2007 legislative recommendations, Oregon BEST was established in November of 2007 with $2.5 million in funding from the Oregon legislature and additional funding from the Oregon University System and the Meyer Memorial Trust. The center seeks to leverage Oregon's unique position as a national leader in sustainable natural resource management, progressive land use, environmental stewardship, renewable energy and sustainable technologies and practices in the "built environment."

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


David Kenney,