ASRC going green!

Over 20 years in the making, Portland State’s newest recreation facility opened its doors on Jan. 3 and is now open to all students.

Over 20 years in the making, Portland State’s newest recreation facility opened its doors on Jan. 3 and is now open to all students. Since then, more than 30,000 Portland State students have passed through its doors to take advantage of the university’s newest recreation and fitness facility.

The Vanguard ran a three-part series about Portland State’s new Academic and Student Rec Center in the month of January. However, what most students might not know is that there is an impressive array of sustainability features that have been incorporated in the ASRC.

The ASRC is one of the few Gold LEED-certified buildings in the country. Student sustainability coordinator Jenny Grant said, “All new Oregon University System (OUS) buildings are required to meet at least the LEED Silver standards. Beyond the requirements from OUS, Campus Recreation is dedicated to sustainability. As our values state, we promote the link between recreation and sustainability.”

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system was designed by the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage and facilitate the development of more sustainable buildings.

The report is organized into five environmental categories as defined by LEED, including LEED Prerequisites and LEED Credits.

“This building excels in both areas, and currently few universities are building LEED certified recreation facilities. As far as I know, only a handful exist in the country! We really are helping lead the way,” Grant said.

Some of the facilities in which the various sustainability features have been used include the pool benches, the climbing wall, the gym floors, the multi-purpose rooms, the gym-ventilation rooms, the daylight lighting and the laundry system.

Grant said, “We have received a lot of positive feedback about our features, especially for things like the rainwater collection system.  This is because there are signs in the bathrooms where we use rainwater for the toilets.  There are other features not visible to the average user, like our UV filtration system in the swimming pool or the photovoltaic cells on the roof.”

The benches in the natatorium are made out of ipe wood from South and Central America, which is durable and resistant to rot. The floor surface of the Nicros climbing wall is a Surface America PlayBound surface, which is made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled rubber from tires. Also, Nicros is an environmentally conscious company that follows the LEED Green Building Rating System.

Two of the three gym floors are wood courts featuring Connor Forest Stewardship Council-certified maple wood floors. The multi-purpose rooms also feature council-certified wood from Connor flooring, and the multi-purpose rooms utilize natural lighting and operable windows to manage temperature.

The gymnasium features a flexible system of manually operable windows, relief vents and paddle fans that allow building operators to take advantage of the natural air currents, thus minimizing the need to use mechanical heating and cooling equipment. One of the strategies to reduce energy use is utilizing daylight lighting in offices, the pool and other areas of the building.  This reduces the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours. The ASRC building uses 29 percent less energy than a comparable code compliant building.

The elliptical machines are enabled with ReRev technology which helps generate electricity using the kinetic motion of the user. The outdoor program strives to be environmentally sustainable and follows the “leave no trace” policy on their outdoor trips. There is a provision to collect the rainwater from the roof and use it for plumbing and fire sprinkler systems, which has made the water distribution system 85 percent more efficient.

“Personally, I think the heating-cooling pump is pretty awesome.  It was a system they put into the old PCAT building to draw up cold water from the aquifer and used to cool down the building.  When the ASRC was being built, they just modified the pump so that it returns the water to the aquifer after it is used,” Grant said.

All students taking one credit or more are automatically members and just need to show their photo on a PSU OneCard to access the new facilities, equipment and classes. Though student memberships to the ASRC are included in tuition and fees, alumni, faculty and staff can purchase memberships. Spouse and guest memberships are also available, and more information on pricing and payment options is available at or by calling 503-725-5127.

Sustainability tours are offered by appointment only. E-mail [email protected] to request a sustainability tour. For groups larger than eight people, fill out the group tour request found at