Perhaps predictably, this LEED Gold residential complex is just one of many ways the University of Portland is pursuing sustainability.



Location Portland, OR
Size 107,000 square feet
Completed 2009
Program Common spaces, bedrooms with shared baths, and apartment units that include private  kitchens, baths, and bedrooms

The climate action plan set forth by the University of Portland calls for the school to be carbon neutral by 2040. Such a commitment has resulted in a series of building projects—new construction and renovations—on the private college campus in Portland, Oregon. Fields and Schoenfeldt halls, two residential wings within one building, are the university’s newest residence halls, adding a total of 312 beds in 107,000 square feet. Both halls are LEED Gold certified and feature what the team calls an “ecoroof.”

We spoke with the project team, which included Paul Luty, director of facilities planning and construction for the University of Portland; Dan Danielson, principal at Soderstrom Architects; and Brent Schafer, president of Todd Construction.

What led to the development of the new residence halls at University of Portland?

Paul Luty: The University of Portland began construction of two new residence halls in the spring of 2008 to help house the projected increased enrollment for the 2009–2010 school year. Both halls are located in a common building on the west end of campus proper. With this being the first residence hall built in over 10 years, the university wanted to set a higher standard for their campus living.


Owner University of Portland
Architects Soderstrom Architects
General Contractor Todd Construction

Describe the key features of the green-roof system you used.

Dan Danielson: Storm-water management is a major issue for the university as their campus continues to grow. They want to promote and demonstrate new green technologies for buildings, and the ecoroof not only provides a good demonstration of building technology, but also helps minimize the need for additional dry wells on campus. The roofs can be viewed from several locations: the third- and fourth-floor common areas and adjacent resident rooms on the second, third, and fourth floors.

What were some of the challenges in construction of this project?

Brent Schafer: The project went very smoothly, but our biggest constraint was working on an occupied campus next to existing residence halls and managing safety and public access. With construction and soft costs the project was $21 million and took one year to complete. Here in Oregon we use a lot of sourced materials that are provided locally, including the steel for the project and a number of sources for recycled content. On this project we achieved [a] 95-percent [recycling rate] on our construction debris.


Certification LEED Gold
Roof An “ecoroof” absorbs rainwater and teaches students about green technologies
Materials Many of the building materials were sourced locally, including the steel
Recycling 95% of construction debris was recycled

Step back a bit and explain what the University of Portland is trying to achieve in sustainability.

Luty: The campus as a whole is very involved in sustainability and energy efficiency. Students are currently in a national competition for energy reduction in the residence halls. We have new curriculum dealing with the environment. The entire staff is supportive, including our food-service company Bon Appétit, which has promoted locally grown and organic foods. We are one of the first universities in the country to ban bottled water on campus.

Can you explain in more detail the new storm-water system and ecoroof?

Danielson: The goal of this project was to provide … the opportunity to experience landscaped areas on the upper floors of the building and help with the campus storm-water management. The rain falling directly on the green roof will be mostly absorbed by the ecoroof system. Any overflow or unabsorbed water is piped directly to the landscaping surrounding the base of the building. The campus is not connected to the city storm-water system and therefore has to build additional dry wells for each new impervious surface. The ecoroof and bioswale helped to minimize the size and need of additional dry wells.

The lobby of the new residence hall building makes visible the energy-efficient lighting and expansive windows. What’s not seen is the green roof sitting on top.