The greenest approach to development is to retain and refurbish an existing building, which is exactly what occurred with PNCA’s new campus anchor—the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design. The building, at 511 Broadway, originally opened as Portland’s main post office in 1919. When the Federal Government decommissioned the facility, PNCA received the building through a collaborative effort between the College, the National Parks Service, the National Trust for Historic Places, and the Portland Development Commission.
Brad Cloepfil and the team at Allied Works Architecture created a stunning design that honored the building’s historic heritage, while creating state-of-the art-facilities for a top art and design education. Howard S. Wright Construction, with Gerding Edlen as project manager, began work on the building early in 2014. Along with green features in the new construction in the building’s central core, many sustainable features were achieved through restoration. After decades of being covered, original skylights were opened throughout the second floor. Original hardwood floors were restored, and enormous sawtooth skylights, originally part of the Post Office’s mail sorting facilities, were uncovered in the New Commons. The interior became filled with light as the tops of ground-floor arched windows were uncovered and dropped ceilings were removed from hallway transom windows in the tower. And the building still had the original operational windows in the tower.
PNCA is currently seeking LEED Platinum Certification for the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design.
PNCA 511 Building Renovation: Sustainability Accomplishments
• LEED Platinum Certification (Pending) – Administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) is an internationally recognized and respected benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance “green” buildings. PNCA’s 511 building has been designed and renovated to achieve LEED Platinum, the highest certification level possible.
• Building Reuse: Renovation of a Historic Building – Originally opened in 1919 as federal post office and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the entire exterior of the building’s façade has been preserved and restored. Further, more than 95% of the surface areas of the structural walls, floors and roof of the building were preserved and restored for reuse. This extensive reuse minimizes the need for new materials and the generation of construction waste, honors the past and offers architectural character.
• Energy Efficiency: High-performance, Energy-Efficient Design – Through an integrated combination of strategies, PNCA’s 511 building is forecasted to provide at least 40% energy-cost savings—or $90,000 each year—compared to minimum code-standard design. The energy savings is derived primarily from efficient LED lighting design with daylight controls and occupancy sensors; efficient HVAC systems (a dedicated outdoor air system with heat recovery and variable refrigerant flow heat pumps); several skylights which reduce the need for artificial lighting; and operable windows throughout the fourth, fifth, and sixth floor spaces offering natural daylight, ventilation, and cooling as well as a connection to the outdoors.
• Real-time Energy Monitoring to Optimize Performance – A comprehensive energy monitoring system will provide timely actual building energy usage of the heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, systems to enable building operators to fine-tune and maintain systems to ensure on-going optimal energy performance and operational cost savings.
• Renewable Energy: Roof-Top Solar-Ready—A roof-top, on-site solar photovoltaic system is planned, pending funding, to offset the building’s electricity load. The system size is to-be-determined but is forecasted to produce at least 1% of the building’s annual energy load which would equate to an annual $5,000 operating cost savings.
• Water Efficiency: Water-Efficient Plumbing Fixtures – The installation of high-performance/low-flow plumbing fixtures in all restrooms and kitchen-break rooms is forecasted to use 30% less water than if only code-minimum fixtures were used.
• Healthy Indoor Air Quality: Low-Emitting Building Materials – Many of the building products used throughout the project – adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, flooring systems, composite woods, and others – were specifically chosen in part for their no- or low-VOC content or no added-urea formaldehyde (NAUF). VOCs are volatile organic compounds which off-gas at room temperature and can be odorous, irritating, and harmful to occupants’ health and well-being.
• Transportation Options Abound – Located in the heart of downtown Portland, the project has convenient access to TriMet buses and light rail MAX. Dozens of bicycle racks, connectivity to Portland’s extensive bicycle network of bike paths and bike lanes encourage bicycle commuting. Additionally, the adjacent greenway North Park Blocks and nearby Willamette River Greenway inspire walking.