Oregon Sustainability Center

building partnerships : advancing best practices : creating green jobs

Digging In: OSC’s research team takes its first steps


Lisa Petterson of SERA presents a design vision at the OSC charrette. Petterson and five others are now launching the initial research efforts for the OSC’s actual design and development.

The most common question we’ve heard since the end of the OSC charrette has been, What happens next?

To which we reply: A lot.

Ideally, the charrette infuses all aspects of the project moving forward, its salient points functioning as both a filter and a reference, whether the design team is puzzling over how to deal with storm water, or the research team is seeking ways to engage the university system.

But first, the distillation. Green Building Services reports that they have gathered over 20 GB of material from the week-long jam session. The team at GBS is now diligently culling through all of the notes, illustrations, videos and photographs they’ve collected, and they’ll be compiling a final report that will be made available for public distribution in the coming weeks. We’ll be sure to post that here when it arrives.

Meanwhile, the OSC research team has formed a working group that now meets every Monday to discuss the status of a series of prioritized investigations.

This group—which includes David Kenney of Oregon BEST, Jennifer Allen, interim director of the Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices at PSU, Damin Tarlow and Dennis Wilde of Gerding Edlen Development, and Clark Brockman and Lisa Petterson of SERA— has determined that the OSC research efforts for the feasibility study will center on achieving greater clarity on the greatest unknown variables related to the Living Building Challenge criteria.

The agenda also stems from a desire to take advantage, wherever possible, of existing research available from the Oregon University System (an OSC core project partner), which will be critical given the nearing deadline of the feasibility phase (June 30th, 2009).

The team has identified eight areas of focus. They include:

  • Identifying products the team is likely to use in the building that cannot be procured within the service radius prescribed by the Living Building Challenge (Prerequisite #8).
  • Understanding the research Portland State University is doing on measuring green roof behavior relative to energy conservation, water conservation and water quality as it might apply to this project.
  • Tracking and analyzing microclimate-specific data from Portland State University’s existing weather station so the design team can utilize it in its building analysis. Specifically, wind direction and intensity are very specific to the site and need to be gathered locally.
  • Gathering data on several parking garages near to the building site (SW 5th and Washington) to understand their energy use characteristics, to then potentially model a large building’s path to net zero energy at a district scale.
  • Initiating daylighting modeling and form analysis specific to the project (light shelf design/glazing design).
  • Reviewing existing carbon footprint metrics to assist in understanding the carbon impact of the OSC from manufacturing to design through construction and beyond.

Eager to get to work straight away (and aware of the shortage of time), the team’s investigations into these eight topic areas have already begun. We’ll keep you posted as the findings roll in.


Filed under: Project History, Research

3 Responses

  1. pylon says:

    Hey neighbors-

    I was just wondering. Is the building going to be built, and then “that’s it”?

    Technologies will be changing, especially now that more of the population is getting on board with greening. Would it be appropriate to set aside at least part of the building to be just a frame, that would be implemented with the very latest insulation, plumbing, windowing, lighting, etc.technologies? Different configurations of different technologies can be researched/optimized. When newer technologies come along you can just take out the old and put in the new. This way the building itself can provide a constantly changing research component to the project (e.g., it can continue to grow), and keep world interest going.


  2. pylon says:

    Good morning-

    In addition to the energy and pollution savings that a green/living building could enable, there may also be quality of life/worker productivity improvements as well.

    It may be beneficial to have access to an industrial psychologist (or similar) who can quantify factors along these lines. Improvements in these areas would be additional “selling points” for the living building approach. Increases in worker productivity would help get the business community on board to a greater extent.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. […] students helped the OSC research group with several items on their 90-day agenda, which aimed to answer the questions most pertinent to the feasibility […]

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