Four buildings certified under LEED O+M program through initiative focused on existing buildings
Author: Emily Quinton, Campus Sustainability Office
Posted: June 3, 2019

In just over two years, Portland State successfully certified four buildings under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Building Operations and Maintenance program (LEED O+M).

Building on a 15 year commitment to achieving LEED certification, the LEED O+M initiative was developed to recognize the importance of PSU’s diverse building stock. Given that PSU can't substantially renovate every building in the short-term, focusing on LEED O+M allows the University to improve the conditions of existing buildings, expand PSU’s commitment to LEED principles beyond new construction, and address some important deferred maintenance. Together with recent LEED certifications of the Karl Miller Center and Viking Pavilion, PSU now has 15 LEED certified buildings on campus.

The four buildings certified LEED O+M are:
  • Urban Center Building (academic building, LEED O+M Silver)

  • Blumel Hall (housing building, LEED O+M Gold)

  • Richard & Maurine Neuberger Center (administrative building, LEED O+M Gold)

  • University Services Building (administrative building with maintenance shops, LEED O+M Silver)

These buildings house a variety of occupants and uses, which meant taking a tailored approach to each certification process while maintaining consistent commitment to practices that improve resource efficiency and occupant health. Campus-wide standards for green cleaning, integrated pest management, and other processes, were updated and applied across the buildings.  

“We have made changes resulting in healthier, more resource efficient buildings, not only in these four buildings but campus wide.” explained campus sustainability director, Jenny McNamara. “The collaboration to develop and implement changes in standards and practices increase the likelihood that our commitments will be actualized long after the departure of the individuals who worked on this project.”

The collaboration that made this initiative possible cannot be overlooked. Not only did this work involve cross-division collaboration, building occupant feedback played an important role in understanding comfort levels around acoustics, temperature, air quality, cleanliness, and lighting, as well as information about purchasing practices. In each building, the results and feedback gathered through these occupant comfort surveys contributed both to implemented and scheduled building improvements, as well as credits earned towards certification.

The Campus Sustainability Office (CSO) oversaw the certification process, including coordinating the performance periods with partners in Facilities & Property Management (FPM). During the performance periods, FPM tracked equipment and materials used as part of the building exterior, hardscapes and green cleaning credits. Then, based on performance period outcomes, FPM adapted operating policies and procedures within the buildings to align with best practices. Each performance period included a waste audit, performed by Community Environmental Services. Partners in Capital Projects & Construction offered technical expertise in areas like air quality and mechanical systems, while Materials Management Services tracked surplus materials movement from the buildings certified.

Data collected during the certification process were used to demonstrate strengths, such as waste diversion, and also revealed opportunities for longer-term infrastructure investments through the PSU Green Revolving Fund.

Drawing from lessons learned over the past few years, Campus Sustainability staff and partners are enthusiastic about planning a second phase of LEED O+M work. Jenny explained, “We are excited about finding ways to more directly engage faculty and students in this process, utilizing our campus buildings for campus-based community learning and professional development.”

To learn more about LEED certified buildings at PSU, visit the online Campus Sustainability Tour.