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Oregon's green portable classroom effort advances
Author: Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
Posted: June 7, 2012

Read the full article in Sustainable Business Oregon

Portland State University is moving forward with its effort to build green portable classrooms with a finalized design and plans to build the first two prototypes this summer.

The effort, launched in response to the demand for portable classrooms, is an Oregon Solutions project — carrying the support of Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Partners include Blazer Industries of Aumsville, the company that will manufacture the first two classrooms using donated materials, along with Portland State’s Department of Architecture, the Green Building Laboratory at PSU, the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, the American Institute of Architects, State of Oregon Building Codes Division, Portland Public Schools and Energy Trust of Oregon, among others.

"This Oregon Solutions project is successfully creating affordable, healthy, and green modular classrooms,” Kitzhaber said in a statement. “I’m pleased that starting this fall, students in the Pacific Northwest will benefit from improved learning environments that are built right here in Oregon."

Two large national distributors of mobile buildings have committed to purchase a prototype. M Space of Park City, Utah, will display their unit at the Greenbuild 2012 conference in San Francisco this November. This unit will eventually make its home in Portland so the team can study the building’s performance while in use as a classroom.

The second classroom is being purchased by Pacific Mobile and will be installed at a school in Chehalis, Wash., where the company is based.

The classrooms — dubbed SAGE for Smart Academic Green Environment — are designed to use half the energy of a typical modular building.

  • Design features include:
  • A heat recovery system for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
  • More windows to increase natural lighting.
  • Better air flow.
  • A steel floor structure that improves portability and reduces overall cost.

The green portable classroom will cost about 20 percent more than a typical portable classroom building, but is designed to have lower operating cost and be a better learning environment.

"This will be the healthiest affordable modular classroom in America," said Margarette Leite, architecture professor at Portland State, in a press release.

Leite launched the project in 2009 with her husband and fellow architecture professor Sergio Palleroni in response to the quality of the portables in their own children’s schools.

A scale model of the classroom prototype will be on display Thursday, June 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the AIA Portland office, 403 N.W. 11th Ave.