Stephen Epler Residence Hall
Completed in August of 2003, Stephen Epler Residence Hall is a six-story, mixed-use housing project that includes 130 housing units and a ground floor dedicated to classroom and office space. The new residence hall was the first on-campus LEED Silver building, and the first mixed-use LEED Certified building in Portland. Named after Dr. Stephen Epler, the original head of Portland State University, Epler contains a variety of sustainable design features that improve the building's efficiency by reducing its water and energy consumption.
The Birmingham Building, a 13-unit apartment building constructed in the early 1900's was deconstructed to make room for Epler Hall. The Birmingham was carefully dismantled in an effort to reuse as many of the materials as possible. Deconstruction Services, a Portland non-profit service, assisted PSU with the deconstruction. Deconstruction Services specializes in taking buildings apart piece by piece and reselling the items it removes (medicine cabinets, doors, trim, bathtubs, etc.) through its parent organization, The ReBuilding Center (www.rebuildingcenter.org). This deconstruction process resulted in over 90% of the building being reused or recycled (based on initial estimates).
Epler Hall is designed to capture the benefits of natural elements such as wind, rain, and sun by integrating new technologies within a climate-responsive design. Design features on each side of the building reflect its orientation to the sun. The north side has large oversized windows to let in maximum light, while the other sides have smaller windows and sunshades that help keep the building cool during summer months. Epler uses natural ventilation driven by convection to draw hot air out of the building when it is not wanted. This reduces the building's overall reliance on energy consumptive mechanical and electrical systems and allows for the absence of an air conditioning system. Epler Hall also features heat recovery "wheels" in exhaust fans that are used to preheat intake air. Epler's use of a low-e windows, solar shades, and energy-efficient lighting result in energy savings of approximately $29,000 annually.
One of the goals of Epler was to make stormwater management interesting and engaging for the public. As a result, the system was designed to be visible and interactive. The "show" starts when it begins to rain. Rain falling on the roof is directed to several river-rock "splash boxes" in the public plaza. From there, water travels through channels between the brick pavers in the plaza to several planter boxes. The water is filtered as it passes through the planters before entering a large underground storage tank. The water from this tank is then treated with UV light before returning to the surface for use in the public toilets and irrigation. Epler's stormwater harvesting system was awarded a $15,000 Emerging Technology Grant from the City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development's G/Rated Program. It reduces the building's need for municipally-treated potable water by approximately 110,000 gallons annually, saving PSU roughly $1,000 each year.