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Vernonia stakes future on new school

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Articles - October 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sustainable Features

1011_Vernonia_SustainableFeaturesVernonia’s new $39.3 million K-12 school, designed by Boora Architects of Portland, is being built to achieve a LEED platinum rating. Modeling shows that the school’s green features will save the school district $70,000 per year in energy costs compared with the existing schools. The integrated single building is more space and energy efficient than three schools, and maintenance costs will be less. The building aims to achieve a 45% energy savings over a baseline, code-compliant building. Other green features include:

  • A central wood-based thermal energy system. The school will use about 370 green tons of local woody biomass annually from six regional sawmills to produce the pellet supply to service the boiler system. The pellets will be produced by West Oregon Wood Products at one of its two facilities in Banks and Columbia City. The hope is that the school’s biomass system along with the Rose Avenue biomass energy project and more residential pellet use would eventually provide enough local demand to create a pellet production plant in Vernonia, thus creating local jobs.
  • Siting to take advantage of solar orientation and prevailing winds
  • Daylighting to minimize the use of electric light
  • A ductless boiler system that will heat radiant floors
  • A highly insulated building envelope for heat efficiency

Community Space

About 40% of the school’s 135,000 square feet will be for community use, including:

  • The high school and elementary school gyms for sports, public meetings, performances, and temporary housing for 300 in emergencies; the school will serve as an emergency community facility with a backup generator
  • Weight and fitness rooms
  • Wood and metal shop and art studio for adult education, workshops
  • Library, media center, two computer labs for distance learning, classes
  • The Commons area, Black Box Theater and the Amphitheater for performances, lectures, exhibits

Sources: The Metropolitan Group, Aadland Evans Constructors



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