Front enterance of Benson High School
Front enterance of Benson High School
Full view of the Benson High School enterance
Full view of the Benson High School enterance
Street view of Benson High School
Street view of Benson High School

Showcase Project: Benson Polytechnic High School

Sector Type



Portland, Oregon

Project Size

391,790 Square Feet

Financial Overview

Project Cost $436,000

Annual Energy Use

(Source EUI)
Baseline (2012)
72 kBtu/sq. ft.
Actual (2016)
83 kBtu/sq.ft.

Energy Savings:


Annual Energy Cost

Baseline (2012)

Cost Savings:


Originally constructed in 1916, Benson Polytechnic High School has historically been one of Portland Public Schools’ largest energy users. There have been at least six major additions to the campus since it was originally constructed. Much of the mechanical and electrical infrastructure and equipment within the building dates back to the original construction.


Benson Polytechnic is a technical public high school that includes a radio station, extensive shop areas and recreational facilities. The school combines rigorous academics with hands-on experiences through career and technical classes. As a magnet school, Benson's students come from across the greater Portland area.


Portland Public Schools used funds from its Recovery Zone Program to oversee the implementation of mechanical upgrades and improvements to energy efficiency at Benson. While the district initially estimated an energy savings of 21% over the baseline energy consumption, the colder-than-average winter in the Northwest required additional above-average use of the boiler for heating during the winter season. In addition, the school has increasingly hosted more outside, non-school users, during non-school hours, which has added more heating hours to the building. As a result, the building has realized a 14% increase in energy consumption versus the savings originally anticipated.


The following are a list of energy efficiency upgrades at Benson along with the project costs and anticipated annual energy and cost savings at the project's outset:

  • Direct Digital Control (DDC) systems for the kitchen, library, classrooms, science wing and old classroom wing: Cost $61,110; Savings 18,285 kWh, 17,237 therms, $11,457
  • Air handler for main building classroom: Cost $15,160; Savings 7,586 kWh, 3,117 therms, $2,581
  • Relief/exhaust vent controls in old gymnasium building: Cost $4,877; Savings 917 therms, $600
  • Occupancy controls for shop and gym Heating Ventilation Units (HVU): Cost $62,816; Savings 11,069 kWh, 10,519 therms, $7,674
  • Air compressor controls for the shop: Cost $1,068; Savings 9,452 kWh, $676
  • Occupancy controls for hallways, gym, cafeteria and library: Cost $38,537; Savings 54,398 kWh, $3,533
  • Exterior lighting system controls for exterior and parking lighting: Cost $7,868; Savings 41,283 kWh, $2,952
  • Retro-commissioning of DDC areas excluded from upgrade: Cost $88,957; Savings 1,960 kWh, 9,831 therms, $6,572
  • Condensate return unit for steam system: Cost $4,704; Savings 1,081 therms, 107 CCF, $1,828

Please note total project costs also include additional fees beyond the labor and materials costs listed above.

Other Benefits

In addition to the energy and cost savings resulting from the renovations of Benson, Portland also anticipates additional benefits, including: improvements to infrastructure and building comfort, decreases in maintenance and remote building automation control.