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OHSU Biomedical Research Building Earns LEED Silver Ranking

Oregon Health & Science University's Biomedical Research Building (BRB), which houses some of the most advanced laboratories and research equipment in the world, also has achieved world-class status as one of the most energy efficient and environmentally sustainable bio lab buildings.

The 11-story, 274,000 square-foot structure on OHSU's Marquam Hill campus has been awarded a coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the nation's green building standard setter.

It is the second of the university's recently completed buildings to win USGBC recognition. In February, the OHSU Center for Health & Healing in the South Waterfront was the first large medical building in the world to be awarded platinum certification, the USGBC's highest rating.

The BRB earned silver for a design that is 32.9 percent more energy efficient than Oregon's stringent energy code requires. That translates into a savings for OHSU of $180,000 annually in energy costs. The building also scored points for site selection, stormwater management, erosion control, water efficiency, construction waste recycling, indoor environmental quality, and extensive use of daylighting, sustainable wood products and recycled and local materials. Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, LLP, was the architect; Hoffman-Anderson Joint Venture the contractor; and OHSU Facilities and Real Estate and ETHOS Development the project managers.

"The Biomedical Research Building is a truly heroic model of sustainability," said Steve Stadum, J.D., OHSU executive vice president. "The energy efficiency achieved in this building is all the more notable because of the challenges of its critical scientific mission. A lab building of this size can easily consume far more energy per square foot than a conventional structure. But because of its ingenious design, the BRB only uses about 20 percent more energy than a conventional office building of similar size and nearly 40 percent less per square foot than research buildings built during the 1990s.

""This building is the house the Oregon Opportunity built," said Dan Dorsa, Ph.D., OHSU vice president for research. "It is an eloquent statement of OHSU's commitment both to environmental sustainability and to advanced medical research. It is a place where multidisciplinary teams of scientists and clinicians, with an unparalleled array of biomedical research tools at their fingertips, are collaborating in new ways to translate basic science into better treatments and faster cures." The Oregon Opportunity is the statewide public/private partnership whereby $200 million of public funds together with $360 million in private donations was invested in making OHSU a national leader in medical research.

In the labs on the BRB's 11 floors, pediatric researchers are probing the genetic and molecular causes of childhood diseases, including pediatric cancer and congenital heart disorders. Other investigators are engaged in uncovering the viral and environmental causes of asthma, researching inflammatory eye diseases, developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and exploring cancer cell signaling, cell and gene therapies and stem cell production.

The powerful magnetic resonance imaging systems in the Advanced Imaging and Research Center (AIRC) located in the BRB have put OHSU at the forefront of medical imaging, giving OHSU scientists unparalleled views of the inner workings of living tissues, making it possible to examine a wide variety of disease processes in exceptional detail. One of the systems is the largest in the world outside of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and has a 12-Tesla magnet. MRIs of this size, however, generate a large amount of heat. "If there were no magnets in the building, the cooling load would be half of what it is," said Ali Sadri, OHSU chief of engineering.

The BRB's laboratories are equipped with nearly 100 fume hoods for the filtering and safe disposal of lab particulates. Each can consume as much energy as the average residential home. Autoclaves, which produce superheated steam for equipment sterilization, also impose a demand on the building's energy and water systems.

Recapturing heat generated in the building through heat transfer systems is one of the primary ways the BRB achieves energy efficiency. Hot waste water from the autoclaves and other lab equipment is used to preheat pure water coming into the building. And liquid pumped through coils in the building's ventilation system pre-heats or pre-cools new air entering the building by transferring heat or cold from air being exhausted from the system. For the safety and comfort of researchers, air in research labs needs to be changed as much as 15 times an hour, compared with twice an hour in a conventional building.

The feature of the building that promises the greatest long-term operating efficiency is the flexibility of the lab space, which is expected to save OHSU as much as $250,000 a year for necessary modifications to meet the frequently changing needs that are common to research facilities. Lab tables and other furnishings were designed to fit a variety of configurations. Linear equipment corridors were built to store large freezers, centrifuges and other major lab equipment outside the labs, making it simpler to modify the lab space when needed and confining the biggest heat producers to limited areas for more efficient air conditioning.

Other green features that contributed to the silver LEED rating:

*Seventy-five percent of the occupied spaces are oriented to take advantage of daylight, which reduces the lighting load by 50 percent to 80 percent.

*Waste water from lab equipment systems is collected in a 3,000-gallon tank in the building, which supplies 100 percent of the irrigation required by the landscaping around the BRB. That system saves OHSU more than 400,000 gallons of water a year, which otherwise would come from the city's water system.

*Storm-water planters, or bioswales, are arranged like a moat around the building, capturing and filtering roof runoff, and decreasing by 25 percent the rate and quantity of storm water rushing into the municipal storm sewer system.

*Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials were used throughout the building, including adhesives and sealants, paints and coating, carpet and composite wood. VOCs are air pollutants.

*Eighty percent of the waste produced during construction – amounting to more than 1,220 tons or 33 tractor trailers full – was recycled.

*Recycled materials made up 6.7 percent of the products, by value, installed in the building.The use of alternative transportation is encouraged by shower and changing facilities for bike commuters in the building, which is sited within a quarter mile of bus lines and close to the Portland Aerial Tram, which connects to the Portland Streetcar.



About OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only health and research university, and its only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), with more than 12,400 employees. The university's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU also is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to each county in the state.

As a leader in research, OHSU earned $307 million in research funding in fiscal year 2007. OHSU serves as a catalyst for the region's bioscience industry and is an incubator of discovery, averaging one new breakthrough or innovation every 2.5 days, with more than 4,100 research projects currently under way. OHSU disclosed 132 inventions in 2007 alone, and OHSU research has resulted in 33 startup companies since 2000, most of which are based in Oregon.


About USGBC and LEED

The U.S. Green Building Council is a coalition of corporations, builders, universities, federal and local agencies, and nonprofit organizations working together to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. The LEED green building rating system is a voluntary third party system whereby credits are earned for satisfying specified green building criteria. Projects are evaluated in six environmental categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. Certified, silver, gold and platinum levels of green building certification are awarded based on the total credits earned. The LEED standard has been adopted nationwide by federal agencies, state and local governments, and interested private companies as the industry standard of measurement for green building. For more information about USGBC and LEED, visit


Fast facts: OHSU Biomedical Research Building at Marquam Hill
Construction completed: Fall 2005
Project cost: $145 million
Total square footage: 274,000 square feet
Research/laboratory space: 162,000 square feet
Advanced Imaging Research Center: 16,000 square feet
Building support space: 96,000 square feetNumber of occupants:  350
Principal investigators supported: 60

Architect: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, LLP
ZGF design team: Joseph Collins, partner in charge/project manager; Robert Frasca, design partner; Randy McGee, senior designer; Phillip Wild, project manager/project architect; Amy Cortese, environmental coordinator; Robert Snyder, project architect.
Project Manager: OHSU Facilities and Real Estate, ETHOS Development
General Contractor: Hoffman-Anderson Joint VentureSubcontractors:
Concrete: Pence Kelly Construction LLC
Masonry: Bratton Masonry, Inc.
Structural Steel: REFA Erection/ Fought Co.
Metal panels: Kenco Construction, Inc.
Curtainwall: Benson IndustriesMetal framing and gypboard: Western Partitions, Inc.
Mechanical: Kinetic Systems, Inc.
HVAC ductwork: Streimer Sheetmetal Works
Building management system: Siemens Building Technologies
Electrical: Electrical Construction Co.

Mechanical/electrical/plumbing: Affiliated Engineers, Inc.
Lighting designer: Francis Krahe & Associates, Inc.
Laboratory: Jacobs Consultant/GPR
Civil and structural engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers, Inc.

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