Salem site closes in on platinum designation

Pringle Creek building to get highest ‘green’ rating

By Beth Casper, Statesman Journal, October 29, 2009

Just try to find a draft or even a tiny air leak in the new community center at Pringle Creek Community.

The walls are so thick, the ceiling so insulated, and the heating so efficient that nary a wisp of energy will leave the building.

The so-called Painter’s Hall is so “green” that it is on track to get the highest green-building rating by the U.S. Green Building Council: platinum.
It will be the first platinum commercial building in Salem, one of 11 in Oregon and one of 52 along the West Coast.

The solid concrete building built in 1938 served as the paint shop for Fairview Training Center, which closed in 2000 after operating for 92 years as Oregon’s largest institution for people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

Situated at the heart of a 32-acre mixed-use, eco-friendly development, Painter’s Hall incorporates all of the most advanced energy efficiency and water conservation building designs possible.
The builder used the existing structure, eliminating the need for 3,200 square feet of new materials. Even if those materials are recycled or otherwise green, it takes energy to create new wood, metal and other construction materials.

“The greenest building by far is the one that is already built,” said James Santana of Pringle Creek Community.

To reduce noise problems in the community center, wood slats from another building on the property were used. It eliminated the need to purchase new wood.

The ceiling has 14 inches of insulation, an R-value of 49 compared to the building code level of R39. R-value is the measure of a material’s ability to resist heat conduction. The greater the material’s R-value, the better it performs as an insulator.

The building wasn’t just built to reduce energy use, but also to generate its own energy.

Solar panels line the roof, designed to generate 18,345-kilowatt hours per year. Excess generation from the solar will then be used to offset the electricity that powers the ground source geothermal pump, which will heat and cool 70 homes and seven commercial buildings once the site is fully developed.

Large, white storage bins along the side of the building will collect rainwater and use it to flush the center’s toilets. The system can hold 2,000 gallons at any given time, and the toilets are expected to use 16,800 gallons a year. The toilets have a dual-flush feature to use more water only when needed.
In addition to having the best energy and water efficiency systems, the building has the most sophisticated technology and comfort amenities.

For example, a video screen will provide people with live information on how the solar and geothermal systems are working.

“It’s kind of an old-looking building,” said builder Phil Klaus of Spectra Construction. “And you go inside and you have no concept of how sophisticated that building is. This is probably the most sophisticated building I have ever worked on.”

One of the highlights of the center is a community kitchen which offers lots of space for preparation — room to make food for dozens of people.

“We had to have a killer kitchen,” Santana said. “It’s all about fresh, local food. It’s prep space for food.”

The vision for Painter’s Hall is to have a place for family reunions, documentary film nights, nonprofit meetings, workshops and classes on sustainability, and a comfortable coffee shop area.
To be energy and resource-efficient, many of the homes on the site will be a smaller design than typical new homes, so providing additional community space is important to the community’s developers.

The community center will be an extension of people’s living rooms, Santana said.