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High Performance School Program
  • High indoor air quality
  • Always a comfortable temperature
  • The building used as a teaching tool

Is this the beginning of a wish list for the new school in your district´s future? It could be if you plan for a high performance school and use the Oregon Department of Energy´s services and financial assistance.

A high performance school is
  • Energy efficient
  • Resource efficient
  • Healthy
  • Cost effective to operate

Oregon school districts build from five to 10 new schools every year. Over the next decade, we will see an increase in school construction as school districts deal with deferred maintenance and aging school buildings.
The Oregon High Performance School Program offers technical assistance, best practices research, design guidelines and financing to encourage, support, and ensure that new schools constructed in Oregon over the next few years are high performance schools. These schools will form the foundation of a new model for Oregon schools that will be safe, effective, and affordable to operate. The buildings will be designed to provide comfort and a healthy environment for students and staff and at the same time achieve the highest-level of energy and resource efficiency. The extra cost of constructing this type of school should be less than 4 percent of building a typical school building.

Historically, school districts have taken a traditional approach to construction basing designs and costs on past experience or standards of practice that met minimum energy efficiency codes. A few school districts have recently pioneered the construction of high performance schools (e.g., West Salem High School, The Dalles Middle School, Ash Creek Intermediate School in Monmouth and Clackamas High School). To date, these building are demonstrating exemplary energy efficiency (more than 40 percent better than code), environmental health, and operating costs. They offer assurance to other school districts that constructing a high performance school can be achieved. They also followed an integrated design approach that resulted in the features of a high performance school.
Many school district staff are not familiar with design approaches that include eco-charettes, energy modeling, commissioning or that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Also, many districts are wary of the costs to pay for the needed up-front conceptual design. The cost of building a new high performance school is estimated to be 0 to 4 percent higher than a standard school. Design adds 0 to 2.5 percent of the total building cost and energy efficiency measures adds another 0 to 0.5 percent. Commissioning the whole building may cost an additional 0.5 to 1.5 percent or about $1.00 per square foot. The LEED certification process can cost an additional 1 percent.

This is where the Oregon Department of Energy´s High Performance School Program can help. We can help with both the technical assistance and the expense of building a high performance school. The Department of Energy has a team of energy analysts who specialize in school energy efficiency. We also have special funding of up to $50,000 per school currently available for new schools that commit to designing a high performance school.

There are two approaches that a school district may use to build a high performance school. Both qualify for the Department of Energy's High Performance School funding. 

LEED approach
The U.S. Green Building Council´s provides well-documented standards for a high performance building in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. School districts can apply for certification through the LEED program and, at a minimum, try to attain silver certification. LEED offers standards and targets for accomplishing efficient use of the site, energy, water and materials. Pursuing LEED certification ensures that all design opportunities are explored. LEED also requires that a building is commissioned and its design elements verified to ensure that the building is, in fact, built as designed.
The LEED certification fee through the U.S. Green Building Council is $4,000. Additional costs for the engineering and documentation associated with pursuing LEED are difficult to determine, but are estimated to be between $20,000 to $100,000.

Non-LEED approach
Some school districts will not be able to commit to LEED certification and some districts that start the LEED process will not complete it. As an alternative approach, the Department of Energy will provide funding for schools districts not pursuing LEED if they design a LEED-like school by including an eco-charette, energy modeling and commissioning in their design elements.

Both approaches
All High Performance School Program participants whether using the LEED or non-LEED approach must use Oregon Department of Energy technical services. These technical services include:
  • Facilitation of information sharing and decision making among the school district construction managers, architects, engineers, and the community.
  • Technical expertise
  • Review of all schematic design and construction documents.
  • Verification of energy modeling results.
  • Knowledge of financial resources.
Department of Energy staff can assist you and discuss your school district´s situation. It is most important, however, that you call the Schools Team at (800) 221-8035 (toll-free in Oregon) in Salem as soon as possible. The High Performance School Program offers technical assistance and financing that must begin prior to the design phase to ensure a high performance school. The program is available for a limited time, first come-first served.
High Performance School Program brochure
High Performance School Program Contract
High Performance Classroom 
Case Studies

Eagle Rock

Sisters High School

The Dalles Middle School

Ash Creek Intermediate

Clackamas High School