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February 16, 2015

After string of acquisitions, energy consultant CLEAResult leases big office in downtown Portland

The Oregonian

Elliot Njus

An Austin, Texas, energy-efficiency firm has built large Portland office through a string of acquisitions in recent years. Now it's bringing it under one roof.

The consultancy CLEAResult says its Portland presence has now grown to 425 employees. It recently signed a lease to consolidate all those workers in 101,848 square feet of office space across five floors in the First & Main tower in downtown Portland.

"The Portland hub is one of the largest operations in the CLEAResult company," said Phil Welker, a Portland-based vice president for the company. "The move is, basically, let's get all those people working in the same house."

Much of that space had been occupied by PECI, a Portland non-profit that did similar work. CLEAResult bought the nonprofit's assets last year.

Three years earlier, CLEAResult bought a local firm called Fluid Market Strategies. In 2014, it also bought a Massachusetts company, Applied Proactive Technologies, that had a Portland presence.

"It's another out-of-area company coming into Portland, getting a stronghold and growing it," said Kevin Joshi, a broker at Kidder Mathews who represented CLEAResult in the lease. Such companies, he said, are "very interested in our market."

PECI, whose solar-powered logo has been mounted at the top of the First & Main tower since 2011, was founded by the Portland City Council as Portland Energy Conservation Inc. in 1979. The nonprofit was supposed to help implement the city's energy-conservation goals.

Thirty-five years later, pushing energy efficiency is the work of for-profit companies, said Welker, who is also a board member and former executive director of PECI.

"It's no longer an area where was a lot of need for a non-profit to be doing that kind of business," Welker said. "There was a lot of capital moving to the market. Nonprofits had a hard time being relevant in that space."

The nonprofit, which sold its operations but remains as an independent entity, has moved out of First & Main while its board considers a new mission.

Its sign will stay on the building for the time being, Welker said. First & Main is owned by American Assets Trust.

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