Creating a Clean-Energy Future in Spokane, Washington

This is an amazing time in Spokane. New companies seem to arrive daily. Construction and housing are red hot. The arts and cultural landscape is broader than ever. Things are happening here.

There’s also big progress to be seen in local development. Avista is part of a team of local companies, organizations, and agencies that are helping push innovative infrastructure and land projects forward.

We write about these projects to shed light on the work of our amazing partners and dedicated employees. But also, to illustrate how the technologies being tested today will help us create a clean-energy future.

The Ambitious Catalyst Building

Our CEO Scott Morris (38 years at the company) described the ambitious origins of the Catalyst project like this: “We asked, ‘What if we built the most sustainable building, not just in the Northwest, but in North America?’”

That sort of big thinking is why we launched the high-tech development at the south landing of the University District in Spokane. Through our unique partnership with McKinstry, the most sustainable structure on the continent is being built. Named the Catalyst Building, the 150,000-square-foot structure will use no fossil fuels, but instead produce its own clean energy. It will also be the first building in the state to use cross-laminated timber (CLT), a material that is renewable, green, and sustainable.

While this will be a first of its kind, our goal is to create an affordable model for the world to follow.

The Catalyst Building will be a place where industry and academia intersect to foster innovation and collaboration. Eastern Washington University is moving its computer science, electrical engineering and visual design programs into the facility. The 1,000 EWU students who will take classes there will have more opportunities to connect with the regional business community.

The Innovative Hub and Resulting Eco-district

The Hub is the Catalyst’s brainy four-story neighbor and other half. This 40,000-square-foot companion to the Catalyst Building will house a central energy plant to power both of the buildings. When complete, it will host a restaurant, offices for students and tech companies.

The exciting and rare element is how the structures have been designed to work together. They share crucial heating, cooling, and energy generation duties, while still interacting with the grid. This connectedness allows for the pursuit of hyper-efficiency and opens a new world of shared energy economy opportunities.

When these two buildings are in place, (early- to mid-2020) they will be the founding tenants in an “Eco-district” of like-minded companies and projects.

It’s all part of what Scott Morris envisions as “The five smartest blocks in the world.”

Rethinking Cities: Urbanova

Urbanova (great name, right?) is a living laboratory where companies and innovators are working on smart city solutions that could ultimately be replicated around the world. As a founding partner in the group, Avista is proud to participate in—and lead—several of Urbanova’s pilot projects.

Examples include the Smart and Connected Streetlights proof of concept with air quality sensors, and the Shared Energy Economy Pilot, which incorporates solar, energy storage, and smart buildings.

With each pilot, Urbanova has helped convene partners and align them around the common purpose of empowering people to discover and develop new ways to solve urban challenges.

Enjoy The Views At Huntington Park

Sometimes we build energy facilities, other times community treasures. Huntington Park, named for Washington Water Power’s third president, was built in 1972. Over the years it had become a bit overgrown. To commemorate our 125th anniversary and welcome people to connect to the river, Avista redeveloped the entire park.  In addition, we transformed a former City Hall parking lot into the Gathering Space, which links Riverfront Park and Huntington Park.  This effort created some of the best views of Spokane Falls and opened up new areas of access for all to enjoy.

A 10-Year Lease with Mobius

A block away from Huntington Park sits a classy brick building. Built in 1911, the structure was originally an annex but eventually was phased out of service. For years, it lacked the right occupant. Then in 2015, it found the Mobius Science Center.

After four successful years, we were proud to announce a 10-year lease that will give Mobius a permanent home. At the lease rate of $1 per year, we consider it a donation to the future scientists, engineers, and energy workers of tomorrow.

We Love Reforest Day

We also donate to the Lands Council—our partnership helps to ensure that our future includes healthy forests.

Putting our Energy into Development

These land and infrastructure projects are really about collaboration. When you get a bunch of talented people in a room and find common goals, the sky's the limit.

Learn more about our commitment.

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