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Collaborative Life Sciences Building integrates energy efficiency

Innovative new high-performance science education facility invests in energy-saving strategies

PORTLAND, Ore. — October 1, 2014 — The $295 million Collaborative Life Sciences Building, a joint project of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University and Oregon State University, exemplifies a new approach to science education and research and serves as an impressive showcase for the wise use of energy resources. The building is located on OHSU’s Schnitzer Campus in Portland’s South Waterfront district.

Energy Trust of Oregon provided nearly $500,000 in financial incentives for energy-efficient design strategies and systems that will deliver significant energy and cost savings for the universities. The completed building is estimated to be 45 percent more energy efficient than if built to code. The building is predicted to save approximately two million kilowatt hours of electricity and 84,000 therms of natural gas each year, which the project team estimates will save roughly $350,000 in annual energy costs.

“Saving energy is important in terms of controlling operating and maintenance costs, but it’s also the right thing to do for the environment. We want to use resources wisely. This is a win-win,” said Mark Williams, vice president for campus development, OHSU.

The building, served by Portland General Electric and NW Natural, was designed and constructed using the latest best practices in high-performance building. It provides an excellent environment for learning and research while also saving energy and controlling operating costs. LEED® Platinum certified, the 650,000-square-foot complex includes lecture halls, classrooms, laboratories, specialty research centers, offices, and retail and foodservices. The OHSU School of Dentistry is housed in the building’s Skourtes Tower, which provides new educational and clinical spaces for the school. A central, light-filled atrium provides a gathering place for visitors, students and teaching staff from multiple disciplines from the three universities.

“From the beginning, the combined universities were focused on achieving LEED Platinum certification and were open to creative ideas to reach that goal,” said Lisa Petterson, director, SERA Architects Sustainability Resources Group. Petterson said the design and construction teams worked in close partnership to fulfill that vision. SERA Architects partnered with CO Architects of Los Angeles in the design of the building and led sustainability planning for the project. The design team engaged with Energy Trust’s New Buildings program from the start to take advantage of early design assistance, as well as energy modeling and installation incentives.

A building of this size and complexity is highly energy-intensive, so the design team addressed this through a set of innovative efficiency design approaches. Advanced systems and technologies were incorporated to exceed energy code requirements. Energy-saving features include:

* High-performance lighting, daylighting and controls. The atrium features high-efficiency metal halide fixtures, with the latest in energy-efficient LED technology used throughout the facility. Occupancy controls and time clocks manage the energy load in classrooms and offices.

* Mechanical systems focus on improved indoor air quality and energy efficiency, including an air recovery system in the atrium that recaptures heat and uses it elsewhere in the building. Demand control ventilation sensors in large lecture halls adjust fresh air levels automatically based on occupancy levels.

* Low-ventilation fume hoods reduce energy use in the lab areas by automatically reducing fan speeds when fume hoods are closed.

* An improved building envelope prevents energy waste further through a combination of increased insulation, high-performance windows, a whole-building air barrier and exterior shading strategies.

Even the elevators are energy efficient, consuming energy as the cars move upward and generating energy as the cars return to the ground level. Other sustainable features of the building include an eco-roof, storm water management, water conservation methods and the use of low-maintenance, durable and low-VOC building materials.

In addition to the architects, construction and design team members include JE Dunn Construction Co., Interface Engineering, Mayer/Reed landscape architects, KPFF Consulting Engineers, Oregon Electric Group, JH Kelly and TCM Corp.

Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save $1.7 billion on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at or call 1-866-368-7878.

Category: Commercial/Not-for-profit