Oregon Health & Science University's (OHSU) Center for Health & Healing


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Project Overview
  • Owner: RIMCO, LLC
  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Building Type: Mixed Use: wellness, medical research, clinics, surgery, classrooms, ground floor retail, underground parking
  • Size: 417,000 gross square feet
  • Completion Date: October 2006
  • Utilities: Portland General Electric, Northwest Natural Gas, Energy Trust of Oregon
  • Cost: $145.4 million

The Oregon Health Sciences University Center for Health and Healing (“CHH”) possesses a prominent place in Portland’s skyline, anchoring the Portland Aerial Tram, whose two 79-passenger cars travel 3,300 feet from the university’s South Waterfront campus to the main Marquam Hill campus, 500 feet above. The CHH also maintains a significant position in the City’s portfolio of green buildings. Occupied October 2006, it was developed with goals to provide cutting-edge health and wellness technology in an environmentally responsible building.

Gerding Edlen Development challenged its design team to reduce the capital required for the building’s mechanical systems by 25 percent, while outperforming the Oregon energy code by 60 percent (as measured by energy expense). According to the Energy Trust of Oregon, the resulting building set a record for the number of energy saving strategies integrated into the facility. Innovative design strategies, combined with effective use of tax credits and incentives, saved over $3 million of the initial $30 million mechanical, electrical and plumbing (“MEP”) systems budget, and a recent post-occupancy evaluation and measurement and verification report documents building energy performance 48 percent better than a calibrated LEED Baseline model on an energy cost basis and 33 percent better as measured by energy units (while recommending further tuning of building operations as an approach to further performance).

A two-day kick-off eco-charrette identified significant green goals beyond the energy performance/cost reduction challenge: 100 percent capture and use of rainwater falling on the building and a minimum 50 percent reduction in potable water use; providing significant amounts of power and chilled water on-site from a combined heating/cooling and power plant; and treating all sewage on site and reusing that water for non-potable uses.

The project team met these complex challenges, demonstrating that building performance can be increased at the same time that costs are reduced. As of February 2009, the Center for Health and Healing remained one of only 50 LEED Platinum Buildings in the country and (arguably) the most complex building in the country to have achieved this rating. Reinvestment of MEP savings, energy efficiency incentives, and the value of the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit, made it possible to reach this level of performance with a net premium less than three percent of total project cost.  

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