LEED Platinum Fires Up Oregon Power Plant

The nation’s first LEED Platinum-rated power facility–and one of only two in the Oregon University System–is located in Corvallis, Oregon, at the campus of Oregon State University (OSU). The OSU Energy Center (which comes to us via Oregon Live) replaced a nearly 90-year-old heat plant.

A green profile that includes a reflective roof, water-efficient landscaping, use of recycled building materials and recycled construction debris helped the project gain its superlative sustainability rating, as did a rainwater harvesting system (used for the boilers), radiant heating, hot water generated by heat recovery from the steam system, natural lighting and ventilation. All told, the building is said to be 52 percent more energy-efficient than Oregon building code requires.

OSU Energy Center

image via Oregon State University

But the OSU Energy Center also contributes the campus’ green profile as a whole, which was already pretty green to begin with. This co-generation plant uses the waste heat generated when creating electricity at the plant to heat the campus, using a natural gas-fired turbine and heat recovery steam generator to produce power.

“By co-locating the electricity generation and heat production we gain tremendous efficiencies,” said Brandon Trelstad, OSU sustainability coordinator, in a statement.  “And by producing some of our own power we also ease the strain on the Corvallis power grid.” The plant has a maximum capacity of 6.5 megawatts and is expected to produce the equivalent of half the university’s electricity needs on an annual basis, improving carbon emissions by 38 percent over the old plant.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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