Skip to Content

OSU-Cascades aims for ‘net-zero’ energy in expansion

(Update: Adding video, details, news release)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- OSU-Cascades officials and contractors met with reporters Wednesday afternoon to show and discuss the progress so far and what's still to come in their campus expansion project.

The first phase of remediation on a former 46-acre pumice mine is complete. The 100-foot deep pit has been transformed into a sloping landscape.

University planners are working alongside Portland's Swinerton Construction to erect the campus’s second academic building.

"To start with, a net zero energy building needs to be extremely energy-efficient," said SRG Partnership Principal Lisa Petterson. "In the case of our project, we're targeting a building that is 80% more efficient than a typical code building."

Rather than use steel and concrete, the construction will utilize mass timber, to lower and absorb carbon emissions.

OSU-Cascades said this will be Central Oregon's first mass timber-based project.

The eventual 128-acre campus will be developed in several phases over the next 15 to 20 years.

The 50,000-square-foot, net zero energy-ready building is slated to be complete by the summer of 2021, and open for students next fall.

News release:

First phase of OSU-Cascades expansion leverages sustainable building design, identifies geothermal energy source

In the year since construction began to expand the Oregon State University – Cascades campus, sheer cliffs of a 100-foot deep former pumice mine have been transformed into gradual slopes, and the structure of a second campus academic building has emerged.

Campus planners also recently concluded a study that confirmed a major sustainable energy source for the expanded campus. A ground water based geo-exchange system will connect to an aquifer 500-feet beneath the campus surface for year-round heating and cooling of campus buildings.

The first campus building to utilize the geo-exchange energy system is currently under construction. The 50,000 square-foot, net zero energy-ready academic building will incorporate cross-laminated timber, which is increasingly considered a viable alternative to materials like concrete or steel.

Timber materials for the building were sustainably harvested and produced from Pacific Northwest forests, according to mass timber experts involved with the project.  

“With its innovative design and construction features, OSU-Cascades’ second academic building is our ‘North Star’ for sustainability” said Kelly Sparks, associate vice president for finance and strategic planning. “The building sets a standard for sustainability and will help us meet the bold expectations laid out in the campus’s long range development plan.”

The long-range development plan outlines goals for a net zero energy, waste and water campus.

As part of the campus’s first phase of land remediation, more than 625,000 tons of fill material have been excavated from the pumice mine floor, and replaced with engineered-fill that provides a stable base for a center area that will serve as a green oval and the location of future buildings.

Engineered fill was produced on-site using materials from the floor of the former pumice mine as well as from the adjacent former county demolition landfill, also owned by the university. The land remediation process to reuse existing materials eliminated the need to import fill materials from off-site. The process is estimated to have saved nearly 30,000 truck trips on area roads according to campus planners.

The 2018 Oregon State Legislature authorized funding to construct the second academic building and donors contributed $10 million to match state funding. The total cost of the new building, including site preparation and the first phase of onsite infrastructure for the expansion is $49 million. The building is anticipated to open in fall 2021.

The building’s construction is included in the first phase of the campus expansion master plan, which was approved by the city of Bend in 2018.  The master plan outlines a roadmap for developing a 128-acre campus over several decades near the city center to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students.

For more information about the OSU-Cascades expansion, visit

Article Topic Follows: Central Oregon

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content