Jury: “It is the beginning of a long piece and they are already measuring, monitoring, and exceeding metrics. … They also engaged students and found a number of strategies they may not have otherwise found such as eliminating desktops for laptops, reducing vending machines, expanding the thermal comfort range. There was a cultural piece to it as well that complements the building design.”

Architect: “This was about trying to make a really smart building that conserves space and energy and enhances human comfort. As an educational tool on its own, every class of students [was given a presentation] on how the building operates and how to interact with it properly. Now, a number of other institutions are touring the building to see how these measures can impact their buildings as well.” —Timothy Eddy, AIA, founding principal, Hennebery Eddy Architects

Portland Community College (PCC) has an institutional goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and the new Newberg Center serves as a living laboratory for looking at energy-use strategies that will help meet this goal. The 13,500-square-foot, net-zero-energy Newberg Center, designed by Hennebery Eddy Architects, is the first completed structure of PCC’s masterplan for a 15-acre site in Newberg, Ore., which is roughly 60 miles inland from the Oregon coast. As such, the building is being used as a testing structure for new systems so that facilities personnel can become acquainted with the technologies and the systems’ maintenance before they are applied on other buildings across PCC’s three campuses and seven educational centers. PCC has a goal of making the entire Newberg campus net-zero energy, and future plans for the Newberg Center have it turning into a student union after additional buildings on site are completed.

Hennebery Eddy focused on four characteristics to reach net-zero energy: a highly efficient envelope, passive strategies, efficient systems, and user engagement. The site master plan consists of an open-space framework that centers on a quad at the heart of the campus.

The building envelope includes structurally insulated panels (SIPs) that provide a high R-value and reduce heat loss from thermal bridging and air infiltration. The natural ventilation louvers are equipped with double dampers to prevent drafts, and low evergreen shrubs were placed next to the building’s natural ventilation louvers to assist with passive cooling.

Passive strategies include maximizing north and south building exposures, installing deep overhangs that control light and heat gain, installing concrete floors that provide thermal mass, and using natural ventilation. When outside temperatures dip below 55 F, heat-recovery ventilators condition fresh air, and the concrete slab circulates 90 F water through a closed-loop radiant system in the slab that then radiates heat to the building occupants. In warmer months, ceiling fans provide a 3 F drop in ambient temperature and use a fraction of the energy of a traditional air-conditioning unit. Ventilation stacks are used as an organizing element in the building, and spaces are located around a central circulation spine with three classrooms and an administrative suite on the north side and multipurpose rooms on the south.  A 109-kilowatt rooftop PV array meets the center’s remaining energy needs.

Lighting loads were kept low as common skylights and acoustical ceiling tiles are combined in a sloped system designed to wash the spaces with diffused daylight and eliminate the need for electric lights during the day. Automated controls dim lights in response to daylight levels, and occupancy sensors turn off lighting when spaces are not in use. The classrooms and commons are bordered by large panes of frosted glass that allow light to pass through while minimizing visual distraction.

Throughout the design process, the team met with faculty and staff about their role in meeting the net-zero-energy aspirations, and held regular meetings with community neighbors, city officials, and future students. A member of the facilities department was included on the building commitment to provide insight on how to make the design more maintenance-friendly, and a round table was held with facilities maintenance staff after each project milestone to review the design and gather feedback.

The Newberg Center is now in an 18-month process of measuring and verifying performance with the Energy Trust of Oregon.

Building gross floor area: 13,500 square feet
Estimated percent of occupants using public transit, cycling, or walking: 3
Percent of daylight at levels that allow lights to be off during daylight hours: 98
Percent of views to the outdoors: 98
Percent of spaces within 15 feet of an operable window: 70
Percent reduction of regulated potable water: 49
Is potable water used for irrigation: Yes
Percent of rainwater from maximum anticipated 24-hour, two-year storm event that can be managed onsite: 2
Total EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 29
Net EUI (kBtu per square foot per year):
Percent reduction from national average EUI for building type: 100
Lighting power density (watts per square foot): 0.60
LEED rating: Platinum
Total project cost at time of completion, land excluded: $7.2 million

Data and project information provided by architecture firm via AIA COTE Top Ten entry documents.

For an extended view into Hennebery Eddy's philsophies on sustainable design as well as a showcase of the firm's other green projects, click here. For more information on each project, as well as a database of past Top Ten projects, visit aiatopten.org.

This story has been updated since first publication to amend Timothy Eddy's quotation about PCC Newberg Center.