The Ramona has affordable apartments that are large enough for families with children, a school and community center on the ground floor, and free underground parking for most apartments. Built to the 2030 Challenge and LEED-Gold Certified, The Ramona has extensive green-building features and is one of the few affordable housing options for families in the Pearl District of downtown Portland. The Ramona also offers community services on the ground floor including the Portland Public School Early Learners Academy onsite and the Zimmerman Community Center which is a nonprofit community organization that serves a wide range of children and adults in the neighborhood.
The Ramona Apartments, an affordable 138-unit family-friendly building in the Pearl District, set out lofty goals when design started. The development team wanted to show that families with children would live in Portland’s central city and they wanted the Ramona to be one of the most energy efficient buildings in the city. The Ramona has exceeded its goals - it is home to 116 children (and a total of 357 residents) and is outperforming the rigorous energy standards of Architecture 2030.
The Ramona’s carefully engineered mechanical systems, along with its very tight air-barrier from well-insulated walls and roof, and high-quality casement windows, lowers the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the building which translates into lower monthly utility bills and a healthier living space. Careful choices were made to select energy-efficient options for elevators, light fixtures (including high-efficiency ballasts and lamps), heating and cooling equipment, hot water heaters, fan motors, refrigerators, dishwashers, and much more. WALSH installed control systems to automatically turn off equipment when it isn’t needed, and installed a heat-recovery system to capture outgoing heat from the exhaust fans and use it to pre-heat incoming air. Along with successfully constructing the building to reduce the amount of energy the building needs, the project goal is also to produce as much energy as possible on-site from renewable sources. The roof has 64 PV panels which should produce almost 50% of the hot water needed for the building as well as a 30 kWh array of PV panels that will produce enough electricity to run the elevators and most of the hallway lights. Most of the energy efficiency at the Ramona can be attributed to focusing on the building’s fundamentals, especially building an airtight and well-insulated envelope. The design team analyzed and assessed numerous options for every aspect of energy efficiency. After reducing demand as much as possible through design and efficient fixtures and equipment, they then assessed and selected systems to generate some energy on-site. The final result was a cost-effective and durable building.
The Ramona achieved LEED-Gold Certification, but the Ramona’s team wanted to go farther than just getting a LEED rating. They adopted the Architecture 2030 Challenge as the benchmark for energy use. The results are in and the building has met the 2030 Challenge, which was one of the key goals established by the Client. The 2030 Challenge is an energy efficiency standard that many building owners are attempting to meet as they undertake new construction and rehabilitation projects. It sets performance targets that are significantly higher than those required by the LEED rating system. It currently requires buildings to be designed to be at least 60% more energy efficient than the average for that building type.