PCC Newberg Center – Portland AIA 2011 Sustainable Design Award Winner
A 2011 Portland AIA Design Awards jurist commented upon the Portland Community College Newberg Center, winner of this year’s Sustainable Design Award, saying “the building is a diagram of itself”. What might that mean? Well, unlike the hidden building systems in many facilities, you can get a good sense of how the Newberg Center operates, just by (carefully) looking at it.
- Daytime lighting is provided, primarily, by diffusing skylights and glazed south and north building facades.
- Automated louvers and rooftop turbine ventilators combine to deliver natural ventilation and to eliminate almost all mechanical ductwork. It’s not hard to picture how air flows through building spaces and exits from the five ventilation stacks along the roof peak.
- Thermal mass in concrete floors and shear walls tempers building temperature swings
- Opaque exterior walls are constructed of highly efficient structural insulated panels (“SIPS”), reducing heat transfer and infiltration.
- Ceiling fans are used to increase comfort during warmer months and, in combination with the natural ventilation and thermal mass, allowed the elimination of mechanical cooling systems.
- A rooftop solar array, with a second phase due for completion February 2012, has been sized to meet all expected net energy requirements.
With an integrated design team led by Hennebery Eddy Architects, the 13,500 square foot building, the first constructed on the nearly 16 acre Newberg campus, is one of a very few academic buildings nationally, that can be described as “on the path to net zero”. The first step along that path was for the design team, with Interface Engineering providing essential energy modeling, computational fluid dynamics analysis and mechanical and electrical design services, to work with the college, employing a collaborative integrated design process, to design a facility expected to use roughly one sixth of the energy of a typical academic building. It should be noted that energy performance at this level is highly dependent, not only upon smart design, but upon exacting execution by the contracting team, in this case a team of R&H / Colas Construction.
The Oct 27th award ceremony took place not too long after initial building occupancy. Achieving net zero energy performance will rely not only on facility design and construction, but will also require adjustments to building operation and occupant behavior. According to Tim Eddy, Hennebery Eddy’s principal-in-charge of the project, the college adjusted some of their occupancy design standards, for example reducing a building standard of eight vending machines to three, and incorporating the use of controls on the machines to reduce their energy consumption. One of the classrooms is a computer lab and the design team worked with the college to substitute more energy efficient laptop computers for the personal computers and monitors that would typically be installed. Operations staff have been educated about the building’s passive systems and how to optimize performance. The staff, in turn, is already using this knowledge to educate both faculty and students, to help ensure that performance meets expectations. The college expects that the building will facilitate the entire PCC Newberg community learning more about green building design, operation and occupancy.
This is not the first recognition that the PCC Newberg Center has received. In October 2010 it was the runner up in the as-designed category at the first ever 2030 Challenge Design Awards hosted by the AIA Portland Committee on the Environment (COTE). See post on this year’s 2030 Awards here.
Project photos and an informative video can be accessed at here.