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Cover Feature - July 2007

A Sustainable Legacy

Pacific University incorporates green building options into new campus buildings.

Public and private higher education campuses are turning toward sustainability to lower long term construction costs.

When Pacific University created a new master design for its campus several years ago, green building options were a nice idea, but not a huge consideration. “When we started construction on the new library project, no one had really talked about it,” said Charles Arvidson, Construction Manager for the university. “About halfway through that project, the conversation started around pursuing LEED certification and implementing sustainability options. There was a lot of discussion about, ‘you know, we’re a university, we need to be leaders in this area.’”

With the help of sustainability advisors at Brightworks Northwest, the university began to take a greener approach to the construction of its new library and three future projects. “We were already doing some things,” said Arvidson. “We were already recycling construction materials, so we started to look at some of the other ways we could incorporate green building options into the library.”

The university’s master plan called for four new buildings over the course of three years. First on the agenda was the new library building, begun in late 2004. At 48,000 square feet, the new library building provided more room for a growing student population and allowed the existing library to be used for other university purposes. The new library was designed by Fletcher Farr Ayotte; the general contractor was Lease Crutcher Lewis, and construction costs came in at approximately $8.3 million.

Although the library project was already underway when the university began to consider pursuing LEED points, the building still came in with a LEED Certified rating. “We were able to do some things at the end of the project that captured some LEED points,” said Arvidson. “If we’d thought about it sooner, we probably could have done more, but we were pleased with the certified rating.”
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As the library project finished in late 2005 and two new projects began, the university had a much stronger focus on building future projects with green options in mind. The university began to expand student housing with the addition of Burlingham Hall, a 60,000 square foot, 4-story facility. The project architect was Mahlum Architects; the general contractor was Lease Crutcher Lewis, and the developer was Gerding Edlen. Construction costs totaled approximately $8.8 million; the project was completed in August 2006.

The construction process at Burlingham Hall began with green building in mind. The university and Brightworks held an eco-charrette at the beginning of the project, gathering input from all of the players to generate some creative ideas and talk about the projects from a “30,000 foot view.” “One major advantage of LEED is that it brings these issues forward and keeps them on the table,” said Chris Forney, LEED-Accredited Professional at Brightworks. “When we get everyone in a room at the same time, we get much better integration across the project and can keep people focused on real impacts, locally and globally.”

Burlingham Hall proceeded with some exciting green design features. The building has energy efficient lighting, mechanical systems, and equipment. Outside the building, the landscape includes drought-resistant plantings and stormwater bio-swales to reduce rainwater runoff; there is also no irrigation system around the building. In the lobby is an education center, and visitors are also directed to take a self-guided tour of the building’s green design features.

“We’re aiming for LEED Gold certification,” said Arvidson. “It’s pretty exciting for us. If we attain LEED Gold, this will be the first private residence hall on the West Coast with a LEED Gold rating.”

At the same time construction was progressing at Burlingham Hall, the university’s new Health Professions Center (HPC) was underway in Hillsboro, Oregon. The HPC is a 106,000 square foot building housing a variety of university health professions programs; additionally, the school’s College of Optometry and School of Professional Psychology have clinics open for public appointments at the HPC. Lease Crutcher Lewis and Gerding Edlen also served as general contractor and developer on this project, respectively; SRG Partnership was the architect. Construction costs totaled approximately $19 million, and the building also opened in August 2006.

Where green design was concerned, the construction of the HPC proceeded much as it did for Burlingham Hall. The HPC project also began with an eco-charrette, and many of the same design features – energy efficient lighting, mechanical systems, and equipment and an education center – were also used for the HPC. The university also installed a system for recycling rainwater to the plumbing fixtures. This building is also aiming for LEED Gold certification.

Forney says the university is taking its green design perspective a step further than some others might. “One aspect of the university’s buildings that is really interesting from a sustainability perspective is that it is putting into place the measurement and verification systems and processes to monitor these buildings on an ongoing basis,” he said. “The whole process serves several purposes. For one thing, they catch little inefficiencies quickly and get them repaired, but also, because the students are so interested in all of this, the university is capturing opportunities to educate the next generation.”

The green design perspective is firmly ingrained at Pacific University now. The university is currently construction a second new residence hall – Berglund Hall – which is scheduled for completion in December 2007. The new 42,000 square foot hall is currently heading for LEED Silver rating, but with features similar to Burlingham, it may be able to make LEED Gold as well. Walsh Construction is the contractor on the new hall; GEN Architects is the designer. The project construction costs are estimated at $9.5 million. Future projects are on the drawing board as well.

“We’re a university – we always want to be a leader,” said Arvidson. “But this all just makes good business sense as well. We always want to be leading students in the direction of being sustainably aware. When they go out into the world, they can take some of these principles and guidance with them and make the whole world a better place by practicing these principles in their business lives and private lives.”


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