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Green Building Breakthrough: Sustainable Buidlings On A Conventional Budget

Interface Engineering Inc.’s 48-page, full-color illustrated book Engineering A Sustainable World shares the principles and secrets behind its green building breakthrough.

This complimentary document, offered as a public service by Interface Engineering, provides the engineering insights as to how a Platinum LEED project was created on a conventional budget for Portland, Oregon’s Center for Health and Healing at Oregon Health & Science University’s new River Campus.

“We’re delivering champagne on a beer budget,” said Andy Frichtl, Interface principal and lead project engineer. “The key to achieving more with less is integrated design.”

From the start, the developer Gerding/Edlen insisted on a sustainable design that would reduce operating costs, improve occupant comfort, health and productivity, and reduce consumption of natural resources. Those goals meshed with the owner’s mission of promoting health and the building’s purpose as a mixed-use facility.

Interface Engineering’s green building team realized many of its health and comfort goals, as well as cost-savings, by utilizing natural resources. For example, rainwater falling on the building is reclaimed for use in toilets and landscaping, and the building’s 15th and 16th floors are topped with a “Trombe wall” solar collector, which assists in water heating. In total, the net mechanical and electrical systems costs are 10 percent under the $30 million allotted based on a conventional design.

Among many other accomplishments detailed in this book, this project’s engineering design achieves:

  • 61% more energy efficiency than required by Oregon code and LEED standards
  • 56% reduction in potable water use vs. a similar conventional building
  • 100% on-site sewage treatment with rainwater and wastewater being harvested for toilets and landscaping, saving 15,000 gallons a day from reaching the city’s overburdened combined sewer system, and cutting the owner’s future water and sewer bills
  • Innovative features such as sunshades that double as solar power generators; the first large-scale on-site micro-turbine plant in Oregon to generate electricity; natural ventilation; displacement ventilation; radiant cooling; the first U.S.-use of chilled beams to replace air-conditioning in a large building; and other measures.

The guide is available from Interface Engineering

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