Green modular classroom project wins Civic Engagement Award
Author: Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: May 21, 2012

A model of the Green Modular Classrooms Team's design.

A collaboration to design a green portable school classroom has received a Civic Engagement Award from Portland State’s Center for Academic Excellence. The project won in the category of Excellence in Inter-Departmental / Inter-College Civic Engagement. The recipients are a Portland State team comprised of Oregon Solutions, the Department of Architecture, Institute for Sustainable Solutions, and the Office of Innovation and Intellectual Property.

The team just completed a design for a modular classroom that increases the building’s portability, reduces costly sight infrastructure and drastically increases energy efficiency. A first prototype is being built to showcase at the international Greenbuild conference in San Francisco this November, and another is being built for placement at Olympic Elementary School in Chehalis, WA this fall. Community partners donating their time to this project include the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Aumsville-based portable manufacturer Blazer Industries, Portland Public Schools, OMSI and Energy Trust.

U.S. school districts purchase thousands of modular classrooms each year to address overcrowding and fluctuating enrollment. The modular classroom, or portable, is usually designed to be temporary, low-cost solution, resulting in inferior, inefficient, and unhealthy educational environments. And because of the significant investment required for set-up and installation, the buildings often are not very portable at all, instead becoming long-term structures on campuses.

In 2011, at the direction Governor Kitzhaber, Oregon Solutions, in collaboration with Portland State University, the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, AIA Portland, and Blazer Industries, formed the Green Modular Classrooms Team. The group is committed to this issue long term and is now seeking donations of green building materials to construct the prototype.

PSU President Wim Wiewel will open the Civic Engagement Awards Celebration on May 24 at 3 p.m. in the Academic Student and Recreation Center. Outgoing Provost Roy Koch will confer the awards and be honored for his legacy of civic engagement at the campus-wide celebration.