Building a greener future
The Lake Oswego Sustainability Network and the Lake Oswego School District are teaming up to host a "Green Building" event Oct. 5 at Lakeridge Junior High School.
The free event, which is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. in the school cafeteria, is intended to highlight the modern sustainability features that could be considered for the school district's upcoming rebuild of LJHS, as well as for the future downtown Civic Center that will replace City Hall.
"Part of our pitch here is that we want buildings to last 50-100 years or more," says Duke Castle, one of the Sustainability Network's co-founders and a current steering committee member. "The previous City Hall only lasted 35 years, so it's a shame we're tearing it down."
LOSN hosted a similar event in February, featuring guest speakers Paul Schwer, the president of PAE Engineering; Bart Ricketts, CEO of Lease Crutcher Lewis; and Randy Miller, the LOSD's executive director of project management.
The event was highly successful, Castle says, but the school district at the time was still finalizing the details of a $187 million bond measure that will be used to fund the reconstruction of Lakeridge Junior High, among other projects.
Now that the bond has passed and the projects are moving forward, Castle says both LOSN and the school district believe the time is ripe to revisit the topic. Next week's event will feature presentations from Schwer and Miller; it will be co-hosted by Castle, LOSD Superintendent Heather Beck and Lake Oswego City Councilor John LaMotte.
"We now have two new board members and a Bond Accountability Committee, and we thought all these folks really ought to see some of the things that went on in February," Castle says. "The idea was to give people who didn't see it before a chance to see it, and for those who were there, to get an update on how some of this stuff can be done."
Castle says the event is principally focused on the school district, but LOSN hopes it can be an inspiration for other projects in development in Lake Oswego — particularly the Civic Center, which will include both a new police station and a new City Hall.
"The school district is the first one out because the bond has been passed, but we would like to see this stuff applied with the projects the City is doing," Castle says. "There's a crossover here because the things the school district is doing will be presented to the Design Review Commission and the Planning Commission for review, so we want the whole community to look at this stuff."
Castle and other LOSN members have been making a consistent push for Lake Oswego to incorporate two key concepts into new buildings: Net-zero-energy readiness and an "immediate occupancy" rating for seismic resistance. LOSD already plans to build the new school to the latter standard.
Net-zero-energy buildings are able to supply all their power from onsite sources such as solar panels, and any power they draw from the grid is offset by excess power they generate during off-peak hours. A "net-zero-ready" building may not initially achieve net-zero status, but it is designed to be easily upgraded to net-zero status in the future.
"Immediate occupancy" is the highest rating for seismic resilience. For buildings constructed to that standard, the intent is that they will be able to withstand a high-magnitude earthquake with minimal or no damage and can be immediately re-entered and used in the aftermath. It's critical that large public spaces like schools and civic centers are able to be used after a disaster, Castle says.
Schwer's presentation in February focused on several examples of sustainable buildings he and his firm have designed, including local schools such as Trillium Creek in West Linn, South Meadows Middle School in Hillsboro and the Wilsonville High School expansion, as well as the ambitious PAE-designed Bullitt Center in Seattle, which is intended to last 250 years.
Castle says it's important for LOSD and City officials to hear from developers like Schwer, because it can be easy to assume that high-level sustainability features are prohibitively expensive. By hearing from Schwer and other developers in the industry, Castle says, Lake Oswegans can get a better sense of what's possible now.
"I want to make sure the Bond Accountability Committee hears this stuff, because Paul Schwer knows how to do it — he's done it," Castle says. "If we put our heads together, we can figure out a way to do this cost-effectively."