Conservation Neighbor: Alan Ayres

By Holly Crosson | December 30, 2020
Alan milling lumber for the Confluence Building.
Alan milling lumber for the Confluence Building.

Magnificent Sitka spruce and Douglas fir tower above the native understory. Thundering 100-foot waterfalls send rainbow-colored spray over fern and moss-covered rocks. Over 100 inches of rainfall a year keep this temperate forest humming with hundreds of species of native plants, fish and wildlife. Where is this gem of a thousand shades of green? Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon’s Central Coast Range, and it’s the go-to place for Alan Ayres when he’s looking to find quiet solitude.

A fifth generation Oregonian, Alan was born in Corvallis but grew up in the rural town of Alpine, west of Monroe. As a youngster exploring the wild forests and streams of his home, he developed an appreciation for the abundant waters and lush vegetation that gave him comfort. Even now, after moving back to Corvallis and living here for decades, he still gets a feeling of deep calm when he walks in the woods. Alan cherishes and wants to protect these kinds of natural habitats so they can continue to sustain his family and his community for generations to come.

Alan’s name may be familiar. He’s a long-time business man, developer/builder, and crane operator in Corvallis. Perhaps more widely known than his name are some of his landmark commercial buildings: Robnetts Hardware, Big River Restaurant, and Sky High Brewing in Corvallis, and Soft Star Shoes in Philomath. He has always disliked the amount of waste and high energy consumption in commercial construction, so he has taken it on as a personal challenge to see what he can do better about both. He applies whole-systems thinking about sustainable design to conserve our region’s natural resources.

Now he is working with The Confluence (Benton SWCD and four other local conservation organizations), to create a sustainable office building in downtown Corvallis to cohouse the group starting in the fall of 2021. Alan’s sustainable design of The Confluence building has a strong commitment to local with 75% of the building’s materials grown, sourced, and processed within 30 miles of the site. 98% of construction waste will be used or recycled. The building will feature a rooftop reclaimed water system, solar panels, LED lighting, low flow plumbing, and other design elements to create an efficient and ecologically restorative office space. Alan and his future tenants hope the space will be a teaching tool and source of inspiration for others who want to create regenerative spaces that connect occupants to nature, each other, and the community.

When I asked Alan what was most rewarding for him about this project, his response focused on his conservation collaborators, including Benton SWCD. He likes our complementary missions and the impassioned dedication with which we carry out our work. He recognizes that for effective and long term change to create a better future, we all need to be fearless leaders to intentionally create the community in which we want to live. We are fortunate to have Alan as our partner on this journey!

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