Vernonia K-12 SchoolVernonia, Oregon

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LEED for Schools Gold and Green Globes certification

A devastating flood in 2007 presented Oregon’s Vernonia School District with the opportunity to sustainably rebuild as many of their school buildings were severely damaged or destroyed. The new Vernonia K-12 educational campus will be a ground-up replacement. Scheduled to be completed in September 2012, the 135,000 sf space will also function as a community center and activity hub. Since the community has always had a strong connection to the natural environment, a high priority was placed on sustainable design, creating a healthier and more productive learning environment, and considerably reducing long-term operating expenses. The building is sited to provide for optimal solar orientation, providing for appropriate natural light and reduced energy use. Roof forms are designed to direct rainwater to natural landscape features on the site. Existing trees and tree-lines are preserved wherever possible. Features also include radiant in-floor heating and cooling; bio-mass boilers; photo-voltaics; local materials and labor; and wetland education features. Building energy use will be monitored as part of a new curriculum focused on natural resources. The sustainable features will tie to new natural resources curricula, and offer students the chance to experience a “living laboratory” connected to major green economic opportunities in Oregon’s future. Vernonia is not just rebuilding its schools, Vernonia is creating the schools for its future by creating a more vibrant community hub, and aligning the design and educational program with advancing sustainable practices to create long-term economic opportunities. To reduce construction cost, and lower ongoing operating and maintenance costs, the community decided to consolidate several small schools into one larger, more efficient building. This unique-to-Oregon integrated K-12 school is designed for current classroom capacity and has the ability to easily expand for up to 1,000 students, enough room for a minimum of 30 years of population growth. It is being built above the city’s floodplain in a central location that is walkable and accessible from other parts of Vernonia. The new site, at Spencer Park, is partially city-owned and far removed from sewage facilities and other potential infrastructure dangers. The new $40 million project, designed and being built to meet the criteria for LEED certification, will provide a state-of-the-art educational facility and is a result of the collaborative efforts of the Vernonia community, the State of Oregon, and multiple federal organizations.