Jesuit High School photo
The new math and science building at Jesui High is an environmental standout.
Jesuit High School photo
The new math and science building at Jesui High is an environmental standout.
Many Catholic parishes, schools and organizations have built their environmental standards from the ground up, making “green” construction a priority as they plan design new buildings and additions. In fact, motivation to care for God’s creation means Catholic entities sometimes become trendsetters in the environmental campaign.  

Currently underway is the 17,821-square-foot Elorriaga Center for Science and Mathematics at Jesuit High School, which planners intend to earn a gold rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating panel. This building, which will open for classes in August 2011, will be the first LEED Gold building at any of the more than 50 Jesuit high schools in the country.

Meanwhile, Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego is preparing for construction of a  $14 million building project that will also be Silver LEED certified.

“Any new construction project today needs to take in consideration the environment and sustainability,” said Tom Lewis, chairman of the Our Lady of the Lake Facilities and Development Committee. “In Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School particularly we need to teach our children to respect what God has given us and sustain it for future generations.”

Members of the parish also felt they have a responsibility in the community to construct a building that reflects the same respect for the environment, Lewis added.

The new building will save the parish 20 percent in utility costs, and planners worked closely with the city of Lake Oswego to preserve as many trees on the property as possible.

No too long ago, St. Andrew Parish dedicated the $2.5 million Martha Terrell Community Service Center, 3,500-square-foot building constructed with many sustainable features. The eco-roof is visible to people on the ground.

Jerry Bitz, who served on the fundraising and capital committees, said the parish has a highly developed sense of social consciousness.

“We want to leave this world that God gave us in a better condition for our children and our grandchildren and to the whole community,” Bitz said.

When it opened in 2006, the Providence Newberg Medical Center was the “greenest” hospital in the United States. The U.S. Green Building Council gave the facility a Gold LEED certification. It was the first hospital in the nation to earn the designation.

As it was the first hospital to be built from the ground up in three decades by Providence Health System, leaders decided early in the process that the $70.6 million facility would set the standard for good stewardship.

“With everything we do, we truly look at our mission as our guiding values, when we looked at building green, our core value of stewardship was brought to light,” said Mike Antrim, hospital spokesman.

In that hospital, all electrical needs are met through the purchase of green power, and all public spaces use natural light and ventilation systems, outdoor air.

The U.S. Green Building Rating System is a voluntary national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Providence Newberg Medical Center is now a model example for this program.

In October, St. Juan Diego Church, the newest parish in the archdiocese, moved into its new digs after worshiping in a community college gym, Father John Kerns’ living room and houses of parishioners since 2002.

When parishioners met in 2007 to discuss their priorities in building a church campus, they identified their top priorities. One was sustainability.

In the planning, the design helps minimize need for electricity, and tubing buried underneath the concrete floor will carry heated water in the winter and cool water in the summer to help keep temperatures at a comfortable level. Natural light illuminates the sanctuary and sola-tubes will keep bathrooms and storage areas bright where there is no natural light.

From sun shades to electric car charging stations, the new Catholic Charities’ Clark Family Center incorporates many green features. The 60,000-square-foot building on the corner of Southeast 27th Avenue and Powell Boulevard also fosters sustainable collaboration and efficiency among the organization’s programs with a flexible work space.

In 2009, University of Portland celebrated a $21.1 million expansion and renovation of Engineering Hall, renamed Donald Shiley Hall. The hall was built to gold environmental certification, and has been seismically upgraded. It features high-efficiency heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and electrical systems, including occupancy sensors, which turn off automatically when the hall is empty.

When Annunciation Hall was built at Mount Angel Seminary in 2006, it was 25,000 square feet of clever design meant to save energy and enhance learning.

Classrooms have skylights with diffusers. There is no air conditioning. Instead, rooms have large vents in the walls and ceiling fans draw in cool night air. Top-notch insulation keeps the building cool during the day.

Floors are made of real linoleum, as opposed to vinyl, which can emit harmful gasses.

Because of its advanced energy-saving design at the time, state officials sought to use the new seminary building as an example for future construction. The seminary received about $60,000 in tax credits from the state because of the features.

Cost savings was also realized by Holy Redeemer School after it added a new building with science laboratory, library media center, computer technology center and two classrooms in 2005.

They were the first Catholic grade school to have a certified green building.

According to Maria Elmore, the school’s development director, the building was 14 percent more expensive to build at the time because of the measures taken to reduce materials consumption, indoor air pollution and overall environmental impact.

“But if you looking at savings over time, in ten years, you’ve not only made that extra back, you’re starting to save money in sewage, water and electricity bills,” Elmore said. “People back away from green construction because it’s more expensive, but overall, you’re saving.”