This fall, Portland Community College is scheduled to open a new, energy-efficient educational facility in Newberg, Ore., built with structural insulated panels from Premier Building Systems. The SIPs will contribute to a tight, well-insulated building envelope-a factor that the project architects report is critical for the building’s net-zero energy design.

In addition to 7¼-inch core SIP walls and 11¼-inch core SIP roof, the building plans call for 7,000-square feet of rooftop solar panels for electricity, radiant concrete floors for heating and cooling, and systems to take advantage of natural ventilation and daylight. All of these are designed to work together to enable the building to generate as much energy onsite as it uses throughout the year.

“The first and maybe most critical step in getting a building to net-zero energy use is to reduce its energy consumption,” said Doug Reimer, AIA, senior project architect with Hennebery Eddy Architects. “The SIPs are intended to super insulate and reduce air leaks to stabilize the interior environment. Then, fewer photovoltaic panels are required to generate energy to achieve net-zero.”

The 12,000-square foot Newberg Center will include several classrooms, a conference room, reception area and administrative space. It will serve community college students in suburban Portland, Oregon.