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Newberg small business to oversee PCC’s green construction for new center

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Right now it’s just a field, but by next year Newberg will have a fully functioning educational center.

To kick things off, the community is welcome to the Newberg Center ground breaking from 4 to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13, Fernwood Road just off of Highway 99W.

A Newberg Minority, Women, and Emerging Small Business is already fast at work making sure the future this facility meets all energy performance guidelines. A Chinese couple from Taiwan, James and Elee Jen, own Energy Performance Engineering and secured work through PCC’s bond to oversee energy-related systems and direct digital control, which integrates HVAC, plumbing, lighting and all energy units together. The small business will oversee the energy efficiency implementation through all building phases – design, construction and occupancy.

A Chinese couple from Taiwan, James and Elee Jen, own Energy Performance Engineering and secured work through PCC’s bond to oversee energy-related systems and direct digital control.

“We are the commissioning agent for this project,” said James Jen. “We implement different layers of quality assurance tasks with designers and builders all the way to the end. Quality and performance have to be integrated into the process. It’s a privilege to work with PCC.”

Construction should begin shortly thereafter so that the center can be completed for fall term 2011. The project is designed as a Net-Zero Ready Building meaning it is designed to produce as much energy as it uses.  An important piece of this is a 7,000-square-foot rooftop photovoltaic array – 20 percent of which will be included in the initial construction of the building. The array’s translucent panels will cover a large outdoor plaza at the entry to the building.

The design includes a super-insulated envelope with natural day lighting throughout. The building will rely primarily on natural ventilation with radiant concrete floors for heating and cooling. All the floors are exposed concrete slabs and concrete shear walls add to the building’s thermal mass to help moderate temperature swings and maintain indoor comfort levels. In addition, the building meets the high-tech needs of a 21st century classroom with integrated digital projectors and wi-fi throughout. These controls are sophisticated systems for commercial buildings and if done right – per the Energy Trust of Oregon guidelines – the college could have its greenest facility yet in its district.

“PCC is really looking to see whether this campus will become net zero in the future,” James Jen added. “It’s a sophisticated system to track with the building’s automated systems, from monitoring to verifying energy consumption. We’ll test the installed systems before the center opens to make sure these energy efficiency goals are met.

The Newberg Center schematic by Henneberry Eddy Architects.

James met Elee Jen at Oregon State University where he was pursuing his degree in engineering, and she in graduate school earning her master degree in chemistry. James eventually earned industrial and mechanical engineering degrees. Before starting his business, he had been working for a number of high tech facilities as an engineer, mainly in Salem, and then as a design engineer and control contractor where he became very familiar with building automated systems. That led the Jen’s to establish Energy Performance Engineering in 2005.

“Commissioning is the missing link between a high-performance building and low-performance,” he said. “So that means a lot of waste if not done right. When we have the quality assurance process properly integrated, it will turn out to be a good project.” The couple moved to Newberg in 2001 to be between Salem and Portland where most of the companies they work with are located. After nine years in the city, the Jens love being a part of Newberg.

“Its very different and we like it,” Elee said. “This is the city we belong to and feel that even though it’s not a big city, it’s a close, tight-knit community. We like that.”

Gary Sutton, Newberg Center Project Manager, said PCC has made it a priority to hire MWESB companies for bond projects. Thanks to the directive by the PCC Board of Directors, the college is striving to have 20 percent of the contract jobs go to local MWESB firms. In the early stages of the bond planning and construction, PCC has hired 41 firms to date.  Check out what PCC is doing with a Beaverton firm for the Cascade Campus renovations. “We make regular presentations at the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, meet with neighborhood associations across the district, and host monthly meet-and-greets in our bond office for MWESB firms and PCC bond program staff,” Sutton said.

The site of the future Newberg Center.

In December 2009, PCC bought 16 acres behind Providence Newberg Medical Center, on Fernwood Road just off of Highway 99W to serve the growing educational demand of Yamhill County. Until the permanent facility is built, PCC will offer classes this fall at an interim site – the Chehalem Cultural Center (415 E Sheridan St in Newberg 97132), featuring more than 30 sections of lower division transfer courses. The Jens feel local residents are going to like what they see next year. “I think people in Newberg are really embracing this,” Elee said.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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