Portland Community College Newberg Center

New construction: Portland Community College Newberg Center; Interface Engineering Inc.


Combined Systems Infographic. Courtesy: Interface Engineering Inc. (Click to enlarge)Project name: Portland Community College Newberg Center

Location: Newberg, Ore.

Firm name: Interface Engineering Inc.

Project type, building type: New construction, school (college, university)

Project duration: 1.5 years

Project completion date: Aug. 31, 2007

Project budget for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection engineering only: $194,000

Engineering challenges

The new Education Center at PCC Newberg will be the first higher education building in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to become net-zero and U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum certified. Achieving these lofty goals was the central challenge for the design team. Identifying the most cost-effective sustainable strategies suitable to the site while reducing energy use to 60%-70% less than a conventional code building without sacrificing comfort or building aesthetics was a daunting task.


To achieve these lofty goals, Interface designed and implemented Structural insulated panels (SIPs) forming the exterior walls and roof provide a highly insulated building envelope, minimizing thermal breaks and helping to achieve more even temperatures throughout the Center. Courtesy: Interface Engineering Inc. (Click to enlarge)numerous sustainable features, including a highly insulated building envelope; passive heating/cooling systems; digital, addressable lighting control systems; and rooftop solar panels. The design team also improved insulation by incorporating structural insulations panels (SIP) for the roof and exterior walls. These provide less thermal breaks and more even temperatures throughout the facility, reducing heating and cooling loads. A majority of the building is cooled by natural ventilation only with a combination of exterior louvers that bring fresh air in, stacks along the building’s spine that push hot air out, and ceiling fans throughout the facility. When outside temperatures are below 55 F, a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system kicks in. It brings in fresh outside air and warms it with heat recovery wheels that recover most of the building heat normally rejected to the outside. A radiant slab, with 90-F water running through it, heats the building to 68 F. Daylighting controls are in the classroom, administrative, multipurpose, and common spaces. Combined with the skylights and windows, the design effectively Skylights and daylighting controls maximize the use of natural daylight and reduce energy consumption by 15%. The skylights are equipped with motorized louvers that track the sun, allowing the appropriate amount of daylight into the classroom and can be closed to accommodate audiovisual presentations. Courtesy: Interface Engineering Inc. (Click to enlarge)maximizes the use of natural daylight while also reducing required electrical lighting and lowering the energy use by 15%. The skylights are equipped with motorized louvers that track the sun, allowing the appropriate amount of daylight into the room.

Automatic dampers and exterior louvers provide natural ventilation to cool the common area with assistance from large fans, drawing heat out through stacks along the building’s spine. When outside temperatures are below 55 F, the heat recovery system activates while 90-F water coursing through radiant floor slab heats the building to 68 F. Courtesy: Interface Engineering Inc. (Click to enlarge)Classrooms have manual controls to drive the louvers to a closed position to accommodate audiovisual presentations. Additional energy reduction features include: domestic hot water heat pump, a significant efficiency improvement over a standard electric hot water heater; solar preheating of ventilation air to reduce heating energy; low-flow bathroom fixtures and hand dryers that use one-tenth of the energy of paper towels; laptop computers in the computer lab space to reduce plug loads; high efficiency T5 bulbs for all interior light fixtures; improved glazing performance; and overall water use reduced by 49.2% through the use of low-flow faucets and toilets.

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