Sustainable experience was one of a few categories to score low point values on the 100-point scale used to select a design firm for Portland State’s upcoming recreation center, slated to open fall 2009. At the top of the scale, 20 points were awarded for previous experience and design, while only five points were awarded for prior experience working with projects focused on sustainability.
Sustainable experience was one of a few categories to score low point values on the 100-point scale used to select a design firm for Portland State’s upcoming recreation center, slated to open fall 2009.
At the top of the scale, 20 points were awarded for previous experience and design, while only five points were awarded for prior experience working with projects focused on sustainability.
Out of the nine scoring categories, which also included experience with collegiate recreation facilities and collaboration with other agencies, among other elements, experience in sustainable projects scored five points out of the 100 points allotted to the nine categories combined.
However, Alex Acetta, the director of Campus Rec, a member on the scoring committee alongside PSU administrators, a student and a representative from the Portland Development Commission, said that even before PSU picked a design firm, the new rec center was going to be designed sustainably before design proposals were even reviewed.
“It’s important to know that the new recreation center had already been mandated to achieve Silver LEED status before the proposal process began,” Acetta said.
According to Bob Voica, PSU’s contracts officer, the point scale was determined by many factors, including a review of similar projects that were underway at universities throughout the country. Voica said that the five points awarded for experience for prior LEED and sustainability projects “becomes part of a broader scope.”
In November 2006, the university reviewed submittals from design firms that had been asked for qualifications. Out of the firms that submitted proposals, three were selected to give a design presentation to a committee of stakeholders for the recreation center.
The design presentation did not include a price proposal by the design firms, Voica said. Once the committee had a chance to deliberate over the designs, the firms were invited back to present their price proposal. Though cost and qualifications were important factors, the structure of the selection process made it design-oriented.
“We did not go with the lowest bid,” Accetta said.
Voica said that the goal of Portland State has always been to make the selection and construction process as transparent as possible.
“Our goal is to have a fair and open process,” Voica said.
Because of the complexities and many stakeholders involved with a project of this scale in an urban environment, he realizes that it can be difficult for students and the community to recognize that intent.
Now, two years after the initial request for proposals, Accetta said Portland State is viewed as a leader in urban design and construction. He has attended many national conferences and noted that administrators from other universities frequently ask him how the university is able to achieve leading design and high sustainability ratings, he said.
When asked about the perception that students may have from looking at the point scale in regards to the university’s sustainability focus, Accetta said that it is important to put PSU’s goals into perspective.
Acetta stressed there are relatively few LEED certified buildings being constructed around the country, private or public, let alone buildings striving to be LEED Silver.
“When we talk about sustainability, it is part of our fabric,” he said of PSU.