Spotlight On: ecoREAL

Pamela Gorder and Summer Fowler

EcoReal is an education, consulting, and innovation provider that makes Sustainable Well Building goals accessible to all. Summer Fowler founded ecoREAL in 2009 as a Women-owned business after the architecture firm she worked for went under, which laid down the foundation for the strategic cost-effective approach she takes to sustainable solutions. EcoREAL became a mom-daughter team when Pamela Gorder joined to spearhead many efforts like the Well Building for All non-profit mission that with OAME member support took them to Italy to speak at Green Build Mediterranean in 2015. OAME kick-started these global partnerships.

Sam Brooks saw the intersection of Sustainability and Social Equity before it was ever discussed, and Summer shared that passion by speaking about the topic for the past twelve years at OAME. That has helped ecoREAL grow through a talented network of DMWESB (Disadvantaged, Minority-Owned, Women-Owned, Emerging Small Businesses). Summer and Pamela even built a collaboration platform for Prosper Portland similar to an A/E Harmony site for architecture and engineering firms to “shop” for qualified D/M/W/ESBs. Other tools include their unique Green Building Integrative Management (GBIM) process and Green Canary Healthy Material tracking software that enables diverse teams to enhance Sustainability goals. In addition to DMWESB partners, larger partnerships were formed at OAME, including with Day CPM’s (now subsidiary to OTAK) owner’s rep team for the Portland Building Reconstruction project. EcoReal worked with the City during the pre-design planning stage to set the roadmap for the team to meet LEED Platinum certification, and pursue the first Well Building Gold Certification for a municipal building. This option manifested from our approach to challenges as opportunities for a building that was perceived as a “sick” building. We look at strategies through a “triple-bottom-line” lens that benefits natural, human, and fiscal resources. The building’s certifications are a byproduct of that process. 

EcoReal is working with Multnomah County in a similar way for their Behavioral Health Center and Arbor Lodge Homeless Shelter that are in progress providing the LEED Project Administration and trauma-informed Well Building synergies with CHA. EcoREAL led the effort to achieve LEED Gold Certification on the new Central Courthouse working with SRG Partnership and the Health Department HQ working with ZGF Architects. Those were great examples of larger A&E firms working with a small women-owned business to bring added value with our specialized strengths. The GC’s all utilized ecoREAL’s Green Canary’s healthy material tracking software and Lean LEED CA tools to streamline the documentation process. Since those were all successful examples of ecoREAL’s tools implementing the County’s LEED and Healthy Procurement policies, Green Canary is now protocol on the Library Bond projects. 

Those partnerships epitomize the premise behind OAME, and Sam Brook’s mentorship. Consequently, the tools that have been developed over the last thirteen years bridge the gap between these large public projects with stringent sustainability and equity goals. As Sam says, you can’t have sustainability without equity and our tools make that possible. Summer serves on many Equity Committees for the Port, PPS, and Trimet, but it all stems from her dedication to the OAME board that set the simple foundation for “Everyone’s In and Nobody’s Out.” We have survived the hard times and grown into a diverse thriving business thanks to OAME!