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Central Oregon

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

Bend / Deschutes County / Education / News / Top Stories
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Alec Nolan

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



  1. No such thing as “NET ZERO” it take energy to produce wind turbines, solar panels, and most if not all of that has a huge carbon footprint, also what are we going to do with all of the garbage these are, and will be creating in the future as these degrade, and need to be disposed of, there are already giant graveyards of wind turbine wings, that are made of fiberglass and other toxic Materials, that they have not came up with a solution, and the solar panels that have a approximate functioning life of twenty years, most of the toxic materials that those are made of are not recyclable. Yes it all sounds good “NET ZERO”, but it is not that at all, our grand children in twenty years will be driving driving by all of these miles of broken down, and degrading solar fields, and wind turbines, saying, what were our grandparents thinking.
    Currently, there are two common disposal methods for turbine blades – burning them or throwing them in a landfill. According to NPR, more than 720,000 tons of blade material will be disposed of over the next 20 years. Look it up.

    1. I agree but you know they make it all feel good with no facts. Solar don’t solar when the sun don’t shine and windmills don’t rotate when there is no wind. If we would clean up all our forests and use the burned crap that we don’t use we could generate a lot of energy. Worked in the wood products my whole life and we generated most of our power out of wood waste. Problem is these Universities are all greater than thou and teach a lot of BS.

      1. The do teach a lot of BS, which stands for a Bachelor of Science degree, which you would know if you went to college.

        It’s not to late! The offer eldercare at state universities:)

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