Oregon effort will green portable classrooms
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
This image of a green portable classroom is part of a thesis design project by Sherry Shao, a recent graduate of Portland State University's Department of Architecture.
A pair of architects at Portland State University is turning their eco-friendly designs to a multi-billion national industry: portable classrooms. The state of Oregon is supporting their work, recognizing a green solution to the burgeoning portable school expansion may have implications for both public schools and the economy.
Margarette Leite and Sergio Palleroni, a married couple that also serve as assistant and associate professor of architecture at PSU, recently garnered support for their work from Oregon Solutions, a state-sponsored initiative aimed at addressing state issues and opportunities through collaboration.
Gov. John Kitzhaber, in sanctioning their efforts as an Oregon Solutions project in July, noted the work “… has the potential to strengthen the ties between the nonprofit, business and government agencies on the ground” in wrangling the problem of portable classrooms.
The thesis behind the work is simple: Portable classrooms aren’t all that portable, nor are they temporary. Many of the portable classrooms around Portland have been in place since World War II, even in relatively wealthy areas like Laurelhurst.
And while such classrooms are easier to pay for than new construction, they require extensive site planning and are essentially fixed in place. As permanent learning environments, they have significant problems: they are poorly lit, they off-gas pollutants from building materials, they have noisy ventilation systems that interrupt learning — some measure at 80 decibels, Palleroni said —their heating and cooling systems aren’t designed for a roomful of wiggling kids, and they have poor window placement, providing little exposure to the outdoors, something experts now say kids need to learn.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon
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