A sustainable teardown in Lake Oswego
With sustainability and climate change at the forefront of many community members' minds — especially with the 2020 LO Reads chosen book "Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore" by Elizabeth Rush and the surrounding events — it only seems fitting to highlight the City's sustainability efforts with the construction of the new City Hall building.
And while it's easy to think most sustainable efforts come into play when constructing a new building, the City made sustainable efforts in the deconstruction process as well.
Redevelopment Manager Sidaro Sin said contractors were able to recycle 90% of the two existing buildings — a former medical office and doggy day care — that were on the property where the new City Hall is being built. That was about 15% more than the contractors' original goal.
"So we're talking concrete, wood and steel," Sin said. "That gets all separated here onsite and gets transferred over to a place in Tualatin where you do some more sorting and recycling."
The deconstruction process involves strategically dismantling a structure in an environmentally friendly way, which essentially means reusing and recycling materials to reduce landfill waste. In turn, this benefits the environment and can ultimately provide a safer way to clear property, especially with older buildings that contained lead and asbestos.
"The ability to do that certainly takes a lot more time but certainly it's better than going into the landfill," Sin said. "(It's) part of the City's efforts to be a lot more sustainable in the things that we do, from new construction to our building energy usage, just as a general practice. It does take a little effort but certainly that effort is well worth it."
And though the City is not formally applying for LEED Gold Certification because of the cost, it is following similar energy and environmental design standards which require that contractors recycle 75% of materials during the demolition or deconstruction of a building.
The current City Hall building was based on 1987 energy code standards and has many deficiencies including an inadequate drainage system, HVAC unit, generator and elevators. It is also not seismically safe to withstand a natural disaster like an earthquake.
The new building, Sin said, is being built under 2014 energy code standards, which he said "are worlds apart" compared to the current building, and it will be about 30% more energy efficient than what the 2014 energy code requires.
Sin said that as part of the code requirements, the new building requires that 1.5% of the construction cost go toward a solar energy system.
"(How) we've chosen to comply with that is a solar ray (solar panels basically) on top of the roof," said Sin, adding that the building will also have places where there are overhangs that will provide shade and on top of them will be solar panels.
The new building, which will house emergency operations, will also be built to function after an earthquake or other disastrous event.
Sin added that the construction of the new City Hall is still on time to be completed in 2021 and on budget — though during a City Council meeting in early January, the council approved $1.1 million be moved from the budget's contingency fund to bring the guaranteed maximum price of Phase One from $30.5 million to $31.6 million.
This did not change the overall project budget.
Construction broke ground in June 2019, and the City recently completed a major portion of the project: excavation and pouring the foundation. Now workers are starting to build vertically.
The next milestone is in April, after the structural steel is complete. Work on the interior part of the building will then follow suit.
Phase Two, which Sin said will hopefully start spring 2021, will be deconstructing the existing City Hall building.
"It also includes site improvements over on this side," he said, adding that an upper parking plaza and a civic plaza with outdoor seating and open space will be constructed.
The existing building will then be deconstructed, which Sin said contractors will still aim to recycle 75% of the building or more.
For more information on the project, visit this website.
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