First LEED Platinum Power Plant: Oregon State University

The new 6.5-megawatt (MW) cogeneration power plant at Oregon State University (OSU) has been awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum certification.

This rating is the highest achievable level of LEED® certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, making the OSU Energy Center the nation’s first LEED Platinum power plant, as well as the first on-campus LEED Platinum building.

It was designed and built by Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (NYSE: JEC).

The Energy Center, which became fully operational in June 2010, replaced a nearly 90-year-old heat plant with failing boilers and serious seismic issues. The new plant is a cogeneration facility that combines heating and electricity generation, allowing OSU to generate nearly half of its electrical needs on site. That approach is calculated to lower the university’s energy costs by around $650,000 a year, and reduce its carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions by an estimated 38% over the old plant.

As a LEED Platinum building, the Energy Center’s green features include rainwater harvesting for makeup water, hot water generated by using heat recovery from the steam system, a white reflective roof, water-efficient landscaping, recycled building materials, natural ventilation and natural lighting.

Reduced water consumption has been achieved through rainwater capture, and natural ventilation and lighting contribute to the building’s electrical efficiency, which is 52% better than the Oregon Building Code maximum. The net result of cogeneration is increased efficiency in the facility’s energy production on site.

In addition to its heating and energy producing roles, the Energy Center also will be a learning lab for OSU students. Students will be able to mine data from the center and run simulations to learn how energy production works, as well as other projects related to engineering and environmental sciences, including testing alternative bio-energy sources. The plant runs on natural gas with a diesel backup, but it can also run on biodiesel and methane.

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