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PCC Newberg architects nab sustainability design honor

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The accolades continue to roll in for Portland Community College’s Newberg Center.

Hennebery Eddy Architects garnered top honors, winning the Sustainable Design Award from the Portland chapter of the American Institute of Architects as part of the organization’s 2011 Design Awards. The honor was for the firm’s work on PCC Newberg, considered to be “on the path to Net Zero” and Portland Community College’s newest and “greenest” facility yet.

Hennebery Eddy received the Sustainability Award from the Portland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for their design of the PCC Newberg Academic Center in 2011. Photo by Stephen A. Miller.

The awards ceremony took place at The Portland Art Museum on Oct. 27.

This honor marks the second award that Hennebery Eddy Architects has won for its design of PCC Newberg. The firm nabbed runner-up in the “As Designed” category by Architecture 2030 at the first-ever 2030 Challenge Design Awards in October 2010.

“We have had so much fun designing this building – because of its sustainability features and because of PCC’s support to go for the Net Zero classification,” said Tim Eddy, principal, Hennebery Eddy Architects. “PCC Newberg Center is one of the first of its kind, anywhere.”

At 13,500 square feet, PCC Newberg – which opened its doors to students this fall – is the first building constructed on nearly 16 acres that the college purchased in late 2009. The facility features five classrooms, two of which can become one large multi-purpose room when the folding partition is opened. Administration space, a reception area and a large Commons area for student interaction are part of the mix, too.

More than being “just” new and modern, the building is unique because of its sustainability attributes: PCC Newberg is anticipated to be “Net Zero, Carbon-Neutral” – meaning it will generate the same amount of energy it expends – once additional solar panels are installed in mid-February and assessed over the course of a year. The center is one of only a handful of academic facilities in the country considered “Net Zero-ready.”

“The building’s energy efficiency results from implementation of new technology to operate relatively simple building systems – like passive ventilation, radiant heating, natural daylight and solar energy,” said Project Manager Gary Sutton.

“This common sense approach enabled us to eliminate conventional mechanical systems, such as air handlers and air conditioning units,” Sutton said, “which saves energy and money and helps to reduce carbon emissions.”

At the Center, fans in the classrooms, offices and Commons help keep the building comfortable on hot days by making the building feel three degrees cooler through air movement. Photo by Stephen A. Miller.

A snapshot of the building’s many “green” attributes includes:

  • Innovative heating and cooling systems – When open, louvers on the exterior wall of the building draw in fresh air from outside, which circulates inside, rises and is released through five stacks along the building’s central spine rooftop. Ceiling fans throughout the building can be turned on to create air movement that drops the ambient temperature by three degrees.
  • Exposed concrete slab floors and concrete shear walls act as thermal mass in the building, helping to maintain even indoor temperatures throughout the year. Concrete absorbs and stores heat and then releases it many hours later. The concrete slab floors have tubing with 90-degree water running through it to heat the building to 68 degrees.
  • Special lighting – Building skylights are integrated into a sloped ceiling system designed to bring even and diffused light to the classroom and office spaces, reducing the need for electric lights.
  • Bi-facial solar panels – These harvest solar energy, some of which is used by the building. Excess energy goes back to the power grid for use by the community at large.
Natural light Ceiling design, photo by Stephen A. Miller

To reduce the building's energy use by over 15%, skylights in the classrooms and administrative area are integrated into a sloped ceiling system designed to provide even and diffused light without the need for electric lights.

In addition to being “Net Zero-ready,” PCC Newberg Center is aiming for platinum level LEED-NC certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design with a special focus on new construction.

“PCC Newberg is off to a fabulous start,” said Linda Gerber, Ed.D., president of the PCC Sylvania Campus. “This fall the center had nearly 650 enrollments, and now, thanks to Hennebery Eddy, the facility is getting top honors because of its green design.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the launch of the center – both for how it’s meeting the educational needs of the community and how it’s helping the college to meet its sustainability goals,” said Gerber.

The Portland chapter of the American Institute of Architects is one of nearly 300 state and local chapters throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AIA has been the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners since 1857.

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