U.S. Department of Energy Western Regional Solar Energy Center Administrative Offices, Portland, Oregon (1980)
Dr. Aitken was hired by the Governors of the Western 13 States in 1979 to set up and direct the new U.S. Department of Energy Western Regional Solar Energy Center, to be based in Portland, Oregon, and to serve as the outreach network for the DOE's solar application programs in the Western states. While serving in that position, he designed a conversion of 10,000 square feet of office space occupying two floors in an historic building in downtown Portland, Oregon, to daylighting and solar heating and cooling, relying entirely on the energies available at and through existing windows. For this he pioneered a U.S. application of a European technique of "Airflow" and "Return Air" windows. The entire building was instrumented by Portland Gas and Electric, which verified that Dr. Aitken's conversion design reduced the energy use of his offices by 50% for the entire year. The offices were the subject of numerous articles and often visited by area architects for the beauty and efficiency of this upgrade of an existing building. The monthly energy savings of about $400 were donated each month to an area school, to prove that energy savings produce hard funds for meeting other school needs.