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OHSU Center First Medical Facility in Nation to Win LEED Platinum Award

The Center for Health & Healing blazes a trail with coveted green building certification

The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded Oregon Health & Science University's Center for Health & Healing LEED platinum certification for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, the first medical and research facility anywhere to have achieved this distinction.

The Center, located in the South Waterfront district, is one of only 30 buildings of all kinds in the country to have been awarded platinum certification and the largest and most complex medical building in the country to have achieved it. The building garnered 55 points out of a possible 69 on the USBGC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) scorecard, three more points than required for platinum.

"We set out to meet the highest standards of sustainability and energy efficiency when this project was started. This award recognizes the melding of the OHSU Medical Group's vision and the innovative team that designed and built this remarkable building," said Joseph Robertson, M.D., MBA, president of OHSU. "The Center for Health & Healing is the first step in our development of the South Waterfront and demonstrates in bricks and mortar OHSUÍs belief that a healthy built environment is integral to healthy living."

"The OHSU Center for Health & Healing is a real testament to how we can advance green building practices," said Dennis Wilde, principal and senior project manager at Gerding Edlen Development. "It's one of the largest buildings in the country to augment forced air-conditioning with a vastly more efficient chilled beam and displacement ventilation system. All told, the energy that will be saved as a result of the buildingÍs many innovations will be nearly 5.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent of removing 443 cars from our highways."

"This is a remarkable achievement given the complex array of uses and systems that were needed in the building," added David Crawford, chief financial officer of the OHSU Medical Group, who oversaw construction. "We had to capture every opportunity to integrate together function, architecture and engineering. This is really the result of a great collaborative team effort. We have set a new standard for OHSU and for other projects in Portland."

The 16-story, 400,000 square foot building - the first OHSU building to be completed in the South Waterfront and now OHSUÍs gateway to health care - houses clinical offices, ambulatory surgery suites, a rehabilitation center, research laboratories, educational facilities, a conference center, and the march wellness and fitness center with its saline-treated swimming and therapy pools, basketball court and locker rooms. A Casey Eye Optical Shop, an OHSU retail pharmacy and the Daily Café restaurant occupy space on the ground floor near the three-story atrium.

The building is 61 percent more energy-efficient than required by Oregon code. It uses nearly 60 percent less potable water than a similar conventional building does. One-hundred percent of the sewage generated in the building is treated in a membrane bioreactor on site. Building systems also included an integrated day-lighting system, naturally ventilated stair towers, radiant heating and cooling, and eco-roofs. Rainwater and wastewater are harvested for landscaping, keeping 15,000 gallons a day from reaching the cityÍs overburdened sewer system. No potable water is used for waste conveyance or irrigation in the building, and the swimming pools are integrated with the heating and cooling system as a thermal storage unit.

The south-side façade of the building on the 15th and 16th floors was transformed into a giant solar air heater by creating a 6,000 square foot trombe wall consisting of two glass skins. The warm air produced inside the trombe wall by the greenhouse effect is recirculated through the building in winter reducing the buildingÍs energy use.

The building also features:

  • Sunshades on the south side that double as solar electricity generators;
  • Lighting in stairwells and offices controlled by occupancy sensors as well as reduced lighting in lobbies and other pass-through areas;
  • A gas-fueled cogeneration system powered by five 60-kilowatt microturbines, the first of its scale in Oregon;
  • Chilled beams that combine convective cooling systems with displacement ventilation, which cut energy use by 20 percent to 30 percent under conventional air conditioning systems and reduce the need for ductwork and other mechanical systems;
  • Use of sustainable and lower toxicity materials in interior finishes and furnishings, including low volatile organic compound paints and sealants, sustainably manufactured carpeting systems, and the used of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products.
  • More than 950 OHSU employees work in the building either full time or part time. It is the centerpiece of a nearly $2.3 billion array of new investment in the South Waterfront and is ringed by public transportation links. The lower terminal of the Portland Aerial Tram is located next door and the Portland Streetcar stops across the street.

The LEED green building rating system is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance sustainable buildings. It targets areas such as sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The U.S. Green Building Council, which administers the rating system, is a coalition of leaders from every sector of the building industry working to promote environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.

The building represents the state-of-the-art in integrative design, a process in which all project team members provided an exceptional level of collaboration. Key team members, in addition to OHSU and the OHSU Medical Group included Gerding Edlen Development, the development managers; GBD Architects and Interface Engineering, Inc., who were responsible for the design of the building and its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; Walker Macy, the landscape designers; Hoffman Construction Co., who built it; and Brightworks, the sustainability advisors who coordinated the green building strategies. Also involved in the project were KPFF Consulting Engineers and Peterson Kohlberg Associates.

For more information about the Center for Health & Healing, go to

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