Oregon State University Invests in Energy Efficiency

BEND, Ore. — Oregon State University-Cascades (OSU-Cascade) in Bend, Ore. recently received a $500,000 lead gift from Lee and Connie Kearney to support energy conservation efforts. The donation will position the university’s expanding campus to move toward net-zero energy use.

“As OSU alumni and Central Oregon homeowners, Connie and I are very committed to the success of OSU-Cascades,” said Lee Kearney, a retired executive of Kiewit Construction who also serves on the advisory board of the Oregon State College of Engineering, in a statement. “This sustainability initiative will provide a living laboratory for students and faculty interested in energy conservation and independence, and is very aligned with Central Oregon’s values.“

“This commitment marks a first significant step toward the creation of a campus that sets the standard for sustainability and net zero energy and resource use,” added OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson in a statement. “We are thrilled by the Kearneys’ visionary leadership and their commitment to higher education in Central Oregon. We are also deeply grateful that other Central Oregon leaders have pledged their support for this innovative vision of a sustainable future for OSU-Cascades.”

The university has also received a $75,000 gift from Rod and Laurie Ray to support the initiative. An OSU alumnus, Rod Ray also serves as a trustee of the OSU Foundation and is chair of the advisory board of the College of Engineering. Deschutes Brewery, a long-time supporter of the university, has committed a further $50,000 towards the initiative.

These gifts will support sustainable design approaches for the campus’s first academic building, reducing energy demand as much as possible, and installing monitoring equipment that will help to motivate energy saving behavior by building occupants, according to a statement by the university. Design and mechanical features made possible through these gifts include a highly efficient building envelope, the highest efficiency heating and cooling system, and functionality to incorporate solar, biomass and geothermal energy sources. These design features will result in approximately 40 percent less energy usage compared to similar structures built to meet current energy code standards.

“A sustainable campus isn’t just about going green,” said Matt Shinderman, a senior instructor in natural resources who leads the sustainability degree program at the branch campus and served as co-chair of the OSU-Cascades Campus Expansion Advisory Committee, in a statement. “It can also serve as a living laboratory for study and research, and attract students and faculty who care about energy and resource independence.”

The OSU-Cascades branch campus currently offers 18 undergraduate major programs, 30 minor programs and options, and three graduate programs. The branch campus plans to expand to a four-year university beginning in fall 2015.