Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde to open new energy efficient health clinic

Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde to open new energy efficient health clinic

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What should be prioritized in the construction of a new building? For the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, decisions are made for the good of their members and for the good of the land they steward. The Tribe recently completed two building projects that serve both priorities: improving life for Tribal members with new affordable housing and healthcare services, while also making the Tribe more resilient to climate change with leading edge renewable and energy efficient technologies.

The Tribe recently completed a new 24-unit housing development designed for Tribal Elders. Creekside Elder Housing has energy saving features including heat pumps that heat and cool homes, heat pump water heaters, and solar panels with connected battery storage, making it one of the most energy efficient housing developments in the Pacific Northwest. Now, a new Public Health Building will bring many of the same energy saving features while supporting health and safety for Grand Ronde Tribe members.

A new clinic, prepared for future pandemics

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, clinicians at the Grand Ronde Tribe’s sole health center building were able to treat and quarantine sick patients, but as with many smaller healthcare facilities, it disrupted other services. Now, the Tribe is opening a new second building, which will aid its community during potential future outbreaks of an airborne illness.

“Taking care of our membership and community through access to health care is one of the most important things we can do as a Tribal people,” said Kelly Rowe, executive director of health services for the Grand Ronde Tribe. “This new Public Health Building allows us to continue life-saving care while containing the services and spread of contagion if we faced another public health emergency like COVID-19.”

Energy features enable a thriving healthcare and vaccination practice

The renewable and energy efficient features of the building support the new clinic’s core mission. Below are a few of the features that were funded, designed and installed through a collaboration between the Tribe, Energy Trust, state and federal governments, Anderson Shirley Architects, and solar trade ally contractor Elemental Energy.

  • Solar array cuts energy costs—The most visible clean energy feature of the building is a rooftop solar array, which will generate renewable energy to power the building.”Funding from the federal government, rebates from the Oregon Department of Energy and incentives from Energy Trust all greatly reduced the cost of the clinic’s solar installation,” said Ryan Webb, engineering and planning manager for the Grand Ronde Tribe. “We expect it to save over $6,000 a year in utility costs, and over $300,000 over the 30-year lifecycle of the solar panels.”
  • HVAC system works efficiently and improves ventilation, air quality—The building’s heating and cooling was designed for good air flow and customization for different areas of the building. The modern HVAC system protects against airborne illness, while also improving energy efficiency and lowering utility bills.
  • Efficient lighting throughout the building—Energy Trust provided incentives to help the Tribes install LED lighting fixtures in the building, which is also both energy efficient and customizable. Skylights were also installed to add natural light to the lobby.

Combined, these features will help save the Tribe on utility costs to power the Public Health Building when it starts serving patients in spring 2024.

“The Tribe engages with Energy Trust’s New Buildings team early for their projects, which allows them to participate in early design assistance and maximize incentives throughout the design and construction,” said Elin Shepard, senior outreach manager for new buildings at Energy Trust.

The Grand Ronde Tribe built the new Public Health Building with holistic care in mind, offering services for Tribal members of all ages and healthcare needs, including medical, dental, pediatrics, naturopathic care, and more, as well as indoor and outdoor kitchens and demonstration areas, including an outdoor fish pit for cultural nutrition education and food preparation.

Interested in learning more about cash incentives for your building project? Check out upcoming events and training for Commercial builders and designers here, or contact Energy Trust at