CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Kelley Engineering Center at Oregon State University has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the first new LEED Gold academic engineering building in the nation.

The four-story Kelley Engineering Center was funded by a $20-million gift from engineering alumnus Martin Kelley and his wife Judy, along with $20 million in public funds authorized by the Oregon legislature. It provides state-of-the-art research laboratories, classrooms and office space to more than 150 faculty and 300 graduate students in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

"This building is the stunning result of the tremendous generosity by Martin and Judy Kelley and the people of Oregon," said Ron Adams, dean of engineering at OSU. "Our engineering research expenditures increased $3.5 million last year to a record $27 million, we conferred a record 760 engineering degrees, and part of the reason has to do with this building and the men and women who work, teach and learn within its walls."

Yost Grube Hall Architecture, a Portland-based firm that specializes in environmentally sustainable architectural, interior design and planning for higher education, government, corporate and healthcare clients, designed the 153,000 square-foot structure. It opened last fall and has become a hive of collaborative research and learning at the heart of the OSU campus.

The YGH team, which worked with general contractor Skanska USA Building, Inc., designed the building to jump-start OSU's bid to become one of the top engineering schools in the nation. Since its opening, the Kelley Engineering Center has served as a recruiting tool, attracting top engineering students and professors. Designed to foster collaboration and communication, the building is home to many high-profile research projects, including a private start-up software firm that is housed within the building where OSU faculty and students work directly with the company's executives.

The transparent and welcoming design of the Kelley Engineering Center minimizes its environmental footprint and promotes comfortable academic teaching and research. The building features a soaring central atrium that acts as a social gathering space as well as a mechanism for natural lighting and ventilation. Spanning the atrium, the roof diffuses and softens southern light, while the building's exterior design embodies a modern response to the existing campus.

Materials were selected after careful scrutiny of their effect on indoor air quality. All ceiling wood products are formaldehyde-free wheat board, and the steel, metal studs, gypsum board, upholstery, ceiling tile and concrete have high recycled content. The foam insulation is formaldehyde-free, walk-off mats at entry points keep pollutants from entering the building, and zero or low-VOC paints, adhesives and sealants were used throughout. The use of PVC products was reduced and odor-free asphalt products were utilized.

Rainwater is captured for reuse in toilets and urinals within the building, reducing water use by about 372,000 gallons per year. Living wages were paid to construction workers and native plants used to reduce the burden on landscape maintenance staff and laborers. In addition to the use of photovoltaic and solar water panels to offset electricity consumption, a portion of the building's electricity is purchased from renewable wind, solar and biomass sources.

The Kelley Engineering Center's design also encourages alternative forms of transportation. Bicycle parking and showers are provided, and no new automobile spaces were constructed for the project. Existing pedestrian walk-ways were incorporated into the building's design.

In the short time that the Kelley Engineering Center has been open, it has received a number of other awards, including an Honor Award for Educational Interiors from the IIDA Portland Chapter; the Sustainability Award for Built Projects from the AIA Portland Chapter; a Gold Award in the Sustainability Category at the Portland Design Festival; and Outstanding Project of the Year Award from the Northwest Wall and Ceiling Bureau.

The U.S. Green Building Council's rating system is a voluntary consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. It was created to define "green" building by establishing a common standard of measurement, recognize environmental leadership in the building industry, stimulate green competition, and raise consumer awareness of green building benefits.


About Yost Grube Hall Architecture: Founded in 1964, Yost Grube Hall provides planning, architecture and interiors consulting services and is nationally recognized for its design of facilities in higher-education, corporate, healthcare, urban housing and civic venues. The 55-person firm with 23 LEED® Accredited Professionals is headquartered in Portland, Ore., and produces work throughout the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Asia and Africa.


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Ron Adams,