The Oregon Health and Science University’s (OHSU’s) Center for Health and Healing

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2006
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Oregon Health and Science University

Fast Facts

Address: Portland, OR
Company/Developer: Gerding Edlen Development Company, LLC
Property Type: Medical Office
Square Feet: 400,000 square feet
Height: 16 stories

Building Description: The Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU’s) Center for Health & Healing medical office building is located in the South Waterfront District of Portland on a 38-acre site along the Williamette River. The ground floor houses retail space including a pharmacy, optical shop and café. OHSU anticipates aLEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council for this project. 


OHSU’s center is a public/private partnership between the developers, the City of Portland, the Portland Development Commission and Oregon Health & Science University. As the first building in OHSU’s new River Campus, the building serves as an example to both its students and the general community of OHSU’s environmental commitment and the partnership of all who contributed their time, design creativity, effort and funding to ensure its success. The South Waterfront District will use state-ofthe- art sustainable building techniques, reducing its immediate and future impact on the land and environment.

A Comprehensive State-of-the-Art Health Facility

A three-story underground parking garage provides approximately 500 parking spaces for patients, with eight levels devoted to physician practices, surgery and imaging across a wide range of specialties and programs. Four levels are dedicated to educational and research activities, including laboratory space for the biomedical engineering program. Three floors house a comprehensive health and wellness center which includes a full gym, four-lane lap pool, therapy pool, cardio and weight training areas, multi-purpose studios and a day spa.

Green Features

Sustainable Sites

  • The Portland Streetcar, an aerial tram that was completed in November 2006, Tri-Met buses, bikeways, walking paths and Flexcar are all options for residents, workers and visitors.
  • Bicycle parking for employees and retail tenants. Williamette River Greenway provides pedestrian and bicycle access along the riverfront.
  • Employee changing rooms equipped with lockers and showers.
  • Environmentally appropriate landscaping including native and drought tolerant species.
  • Rainwater and groundwater collection and treatment for irrigation; water closet-urinal flushing, cooling tower makeup water and high pressure for microturbine inlet cooling.
  • 20,000-square-foot green roof (more than 50 percent of total roof area) for stormwater management, rainwater harvesting and temperature moderation, also providing some wildlife habitat in a dense urban environment.

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Building flush-out prior to completion to eliminate contaminants in the air stream.
  • Carbon dioxide monitoring throughout the building.
  • Use of low-toxicity materials including low-VOC paints, adhesives and sealants, carpets and interior finishes, to prevent persistent off-gassing.
  • Janitorial closets are independently ventilated and isolated.
  • Walk-off mats at building entries reduce indoor air pollutants.

Water Efficiency

  • Water conserving low-flow/ultra low-flow fixtures, sinks and showerheads that contribute to 40 percent less water than a base building.
  • Onsite wastewater treatment system with treated water used for non-potable needs—100 percent of building wastewater treated onsite with a Membrane Bio-reactor that uses membrane cartridges instead of gravity as a physical barrier to separate the effluent from the biomass or remaining sludge material. Once treated, the effluent will be used as grey water for toilet flushing, cooling tower make-up water in the central utility plant and on site irrigation.
  • The bio-swale and the building’s eco-roofs treat all of the stormwater runoff for the site, alleviating the need for any storm sewer connection. Metering occurs at various points in the water reclamation system to provide feedback on quantities used.

Energy and Atmosphere

  • Central utility plant with five 60kW natural gas microturbines and heat recovery provides onsite power generation and domestic water pre-heat and a high-efficiency, variable flow, primary chilled-water system.
  • All building heating and domestic water pre-heat is provided from a solar collector/trombe wall located on the two upper floors of the building.
  • Variable air volume (VAV) air handlers and variable frequency drives (VFDs).
  • Radiant heating/cooling with decoupled displacement ventilation at atrium and lobby, using rain/ground water and high quality microturbine recovered heat. (The first floor radiant slab stores as much heat as a 3,000 gallon storage tank.)
  • Passive heating and natural ventilation/cooling of stair enclosures.
  • Added wall and floor insulation and high-efficiency glazing.
  • Pool air/water dehumidification heat recovery.
  • CFC reduction in HVAC&R equipment.
  • Energy-efficient lighting fixtures and controls; daylighting of waiting areas, medical offices, exam rooms and research labs and occupancy sensor based lab hood exhaust/make-up air control for unoccupied energy reduction.
  • Multi-lamp high bays in the athletic club tied to daylighting controls switch down lighting levels as natural lighting becomes sufficient.
  • Perimeter offices with occupancy sensors have a daylighting control which keeps room lighting off whenever there is sufficient natural light.
  • Occupancy sensors in stairwells switch lighting on and off to follow an occupant up or down allowing the lighting to stay on for the minimum time needed for egress.
  • 60kW photovoltaic panels integrated into sunshades on building’s south-facing façade. The sunshades that support the array save roughly as much electricity as the PV panels produce.

Materials and Resources

  • Locally and regionally sources for materials to reduce the environmental impact of transportation. The materials include concrete, masonry, paint and wood products, among others.
  • Use of high percentages of recycled content and more than 50 percent use of certified wood products from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests.
  • Overall construction waste recycling of approximately 95 percent achieved throughout the project.
  • Interior recycling and sorting facilities for occupants.

Return on Investment Analysis

  • Initial MEP budget reduction of $4.5 million (net), allowing some of the budget to be transferred to architectural uses.