Engineer Has Design for Sichuan Schools

Staff | September 28, 2010

Portland— A prefabricated, seismically safe and sustainable educational facility will soon be built in China's Sichuan Province, thanks to Degenkolb engineer Kent Yu and a team of consultants commissioned by the China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development.

The structural prototype, which incorporates the most modern green building practices, will debut in the Qingchuan county or the city of Dujinanyan, where a magnitude 7.9 earthquake caused the most damage on May 12.

"It's logical that seismically sound structures are environmentally superior," said Yu, who returned recently from the Sichuan Province. "If a building remains standing and operable after an earthquake, we won't have to demolish and rebuild; there is no construction waste."

In an effort to repair some of the devastation in China and improve the green building standards in the country, the Center for Sustainable Development (U.S. headquarters in Portland) sponsored Yu and the reconnaissance team headed by Wen Zhao, associate partner of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, to make recommendations to both American and Chinese officials. The team members, representing experts in the fields of structural systems, sustainable design, digital design, and sustainable energy systems, presented their plan in September to board members of Portland General Electric, Sustainable Oregon Schools Initiative and the City of Portland's Office of Sustainable Development along with representatives from the Chinese Ministry of Construction and China Architecture Design Institute.

Prefabricating the basic building frame allows for stricter quality control measures, because engineers are able to document every step as each piece comes off the line and is assembled in a warehouse before being shipped to a job site. Construction speed and cost effectiveness are also improved with a prefabricated design.