Oregon School Facilities
Oregon’s school facilities, when taken as a whole, are large enough to house over 20% of the state’s population at any one time. It’s a sizable network!
Each Oregon school district builds, owns and operates its own school facilities. When a district recognizes that a new building is needed, or major renovations to existing buildings are necessary, it must seek capital funds from its community. This capital budget is separate from operating funds, which can make it challenging to include aspects in the initial design and construction that cost more up front, but that will lead to long term operational cost savings (economic sustainability).
Also, with Oregon’s long-term school funding shortages most districts have a huge amount of deferred maintenance This can lead to increased risk from unhealthy building conditions and building system failures that result in unplanned, costly repairs.
School Facilities and Natural Disasters - Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Flooding
Durability is an aspect of building sustainability, A building must be sited, designed and constructed to withstand the types of natural disasters to which its location is subject. In Oregon that means all school buildings must be prepared for earthquakes, and those in flood plains or tsunami zones must also plan for those additional occurances.
Senate Bill 2, passed in 2005, directed the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) to develop a statewide seismic needs assessment, including seismic safety surveys, of K-12 public school buildings with a capacity exceeding 250 people. Related legislation passed concurrently outlined a seismic rehabilitation grant program (SB 3) and a supporting bond program (SB 4).
The assessment looked at these factors, and incorporated a “Rapid Visual Screening” process for each building:
- Seismic hazard zone (high vs. low history/probability of earthquake)
- Building structural type (wood, concrete, masonry, reinforced, etc.)
- Original construction date
- Soil type (dense to soft)
- Risk posed to buildings by their proximity to the tsunami inundation zone.
Using this data, scores were assigned to each school building to indicate how it might behave in a maximum strength earthquake. The assessment helps to identify the magnitude of seismic problems in schools, but it was not a comprehensive structural assessment and did not consider building-specific factors or completed mitigation projects. Many districts have completed a local evaluation and/or local building upgrades. The majority of schools being assessed were built in 1945–1975, before either seismic zones or building codes were updated to address a heightened awareness of earthquake and tsunami potential in Oregon.
The seismic needs assessment final report, released in July 2007, found that of 2369 public school buildings in Oregon, nearly half have high or very high risk of sustaining life-threatening damage in a maximum-case earthquake. The report is the first step in a multi-part process that will eventually create a pool of state money for seismically retrofitting eligible buildings (Senate Bills 3 and 4).
The report also states that of the 150 sites along the Oregon coast studied for potential risk of tsunami inundation, 48 sites have moderate to high risk, and another 81 sites have lower tsunami inundation risk.
To Learn More:
Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
Seismic Needs Assessment page, Link to specific school assessments on right.
Oregon Department of Education
"Putting Earthquake Safety on the Green Schools Agenda", Article from Cascadia Green Building Council's TrimTab, By Edward Wolf and Jules Bailey, Fall 2011
"Oregon Should Make Itself Resilient for a Big Quake", OregonLive article, By Yumei Want, Jay Raskin and Edward Wolf, Jan 2011