The Dalles Middle School, The Dalles, OR

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Project Overview
  • Size: 97,000 sq. ft.
  • Location: The Dalles, OR
  • Completion Date: August 2002
  • Utilities: North Wasco Public Utility District and Northwest Natural Gas
  • Technologies: Ground-source heat pumps; daylighting; T-5 fluorescent lamps; occupancy sensors; VAV fans; natural ventilation; high R-value walls and roof; advanced windows and skylights.

Students at The Dalles Middle School can be proud that their new school “went for the gold.” The 97,000-square-foot building, completed in August 2002, is about to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Gold Certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—the first Oregon school to achieve LEED™ status.

Located in The Dalles, 80 miles east of Portland, the school takes advantage of the water, wind and light characteristic of the Columbia River Gorge. Groundwater pumped from a landslide de-watering zone provides a renewable temperature source for heating and cooling. Operable windows and wind-driven exhaust vents allow natural ventilation. And an exemplary daylighting design, developed by BOORA Architects in conjunction with the BetterBricks Daylighting Lab in Seattle, delivers high-quality natural light throughout the two-story structure. The school’s orientation and other daylighting features offer outside views to 90 percent of occupied rooms, while reducing annual electric lighting usage by 20 percent.

“It’s very bright, open and spacious—just right for active middle schoolers who need lots of space,” says Cheryl Crawley, superintendent of The Dalles School District 12.

While students and teachers benefit from a highly productive learning environment, the school district benefits from a high-performing building with a lower life cycle cost. The school cost about $8 less per square foot to build than the typical Oregon middle school ($127/sf vs. $135/sf) and was completed in only one year. “Our energy costs were projected to be 46 percent less than a comparable code building,” adds Crawley, “but it looks like we may save as much as 55 percent.”

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