Rosa Parks Elementary School

Opened in 2006, Rosa Parks school is the newest addition to Portland Public Schools. The building, which contains both shared spaces and separate spaces for the school and for the Boys and Girls Club, earned LEED Gold Certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification recognizes buildings for their low environmental impact and healthy spaces.

The building has a number of special features and materials included in its design to help create a healthy environment for learning, while using as few resources as possible. Many of these features will be identified by informational signs, to be installed in 2009. You can read the content of these signs at the bottom of this page.


  • LEED Gold
    • U.S. Green Building Council
  • Richard Riley Award for Schools as Centers of Community
    • American Architectural Foundation and KnowledgeWorks Foundation
  • 2007 Grand Prize for Design Excellence
  • 2007 Grand Prize for Sustainability
    • Learning by Design journal
  • 2007 Mayor's Award for Design Excellence
    • Portland Chapter of American Institute of Architects
  • 2008 William W. Caudill Citation
    • American School & University Architectural Portfolio
  • Pinnacle Award for Architectural Excellence
    • NW Regional Council of Educational Facility Planners
  • Design Award
    • National American Institute of Architects/Committee on Architecture for Education

Building Features

  • Acoustic Panels:
    • Specially shaped and designed panels on the walls help everyone hear each other speaking and reduces background noise.
  • Carpet Tile:
    • The carpet tiles used throughout the building don’t emit chemicals, helping the air inside stay clean. Plus, individual tiles can be replaced, saving money and resources.Bikes.jpg
  • Carpool & Bike parking:
    • Carpool and bike parking on-site encourage more energy-efficient modes of commuting to and from school.
  • CO2 Sensors:
    • Sensors on the ceiling in every classroom help control the ventilation, ensuring that there is always plenty of fresh air, and save energy by only using as much mechanical ventilation as needed.
  • Displacement Ventilation:
    • These diffusers throughout the classroom wing are part of a quiet, energy efficient ventilation system. They supply high volumes of cool air at low-speed, close to the ground. This cool air "displaces" warmer room air, creating a zone of fresh cool air at “people” level. The warmer exhaust air rises to the ceiling level where it is vented outside. This provides abundant fresh air, creating a healthier indoor environment.
  • Energy Efficient Lighting:
    • The light fixtures overhead use very little energy and are connected to occupancy sensors and photo sensors that measure sunlight and detect if anyone is occupying the space. By turning off lights when hallways are empty or when the sun is shining bright, these features make sure the lights are on only when necessary.Sunscreens.jpg
  • Energy Efficient Windows & Sunscreens:
    • Large insulated windows and sunscreens (the vertical and horizontal slats installed in front of windows) let sunlight into the school but keep out glare and heat.
  • Landscaping – Native & Drought-tolerant plants:
    • The landscape plantings require very little water. Many of the plants are native to the Northwest.
  • Light Shelves:
    • In every classroom, the large shelves in front of windows bounce sunlight into the room to reduce the need for electric lighting. This saves energy while keeping classes bright.
  • Low-flow Water Fixtures:
    • Efficient fixtures in the bathrooms – sinks, toilets and urinals - greatly reduce the amount of water used on campus.
  • Low V.O.C. Paint & Adhesives:
    • Special paint and glues were chosen because they improve indoor air quality.
  • Marmoleum:
    • The colorful tiles in the entryway come from natural materials and don’t contain harmful chemicals. They are durable and easy to clean, which helps keep the air inside clean and healthy.
    • The entry mats under your feet are made from recycled tires. Recycled materials require much less energy, water and other resources to produce.
  • Shared Space:
    • Sharing the cafeteria, music, art and computer rooms with the Boys and Girls Club and the gym at University Park Community Center across the street saves energy and resources. It also reduces the building’s overall environmental footprint by requiring fewer construction materials and less land
  • Solar Panels:
    • Six solar panels seen overhead produce clean, renewable electricity that helps power a small portion of the school.
  • Stained Concrete:
    • The concrete floors in the cafeteria are extremely durable and easy to maintain, requiring only simple cleaning products.
  • Stormwater Management (Bioswale):
    • This bioswale (buy-ohs-whale) and other features on the school grounds filter rainwater through the ground, not through the sewer pipes, which helps keep our rivers clean.
  • Views & Daylighting:
    • Sunlight pours into all the classrooms in Rosa Parks. More sunlight means less electrical lighting, reducing the energy needed to light the school. Views to the outdoors help connect building occupants with the environment.
  • White Roof:
    • The building’s white roof is visible through this window. White roofs absorb less heat than traditional dark roofs, and help keep buildings and urban areas cool.


USGBC Project Profile

Dedication Booklet (October 2006)

In Business Article(Nov./Dec. 2006)

Lewis and Clark College Chronicle (Winter 2007)

Richard Riley Award American Architectural Record Press Release (September 2007)

Case Study in American Architectural Record

Article in Portland Tribune (August 2006)

Solar panel data from Bonneville Environmental Foundation

"Creatively Financed New Construction at Portland Public Schools" Presentation