At a Glance

As part of expansion onto reclaimed land, campus aspires to become water-neutral while reducing consumption and improving water quality.

Project Description

When Oregon State University (OSU) opened its Cascades campus, it became the only baccalaureate and graduate degree institution in Central Oregon. To serve the region’s educational, economic, and cultural goals, as well as make room for 5,000 students, the 10-acre, three-building campus needed to expand to 128 acres. To do so, the University chose to develop an adjacent 46-acre former pumice mine and a 72-acre former landfill. The properties provided a rare opportunity to reclaim land considered unusable and develop a sustainable community and regional asset with minimal impact on neighbors.

Intent on demonstrating innovation and leadership in energy and resource use, community, integration, distributive justice, social equity, and outstanding learning experiences for students in a financially viable manner, the University envisioned OSU-Cascades as a net-zero energy, waste-, carbon-, and water-neutral campus. As a key member of a planning and engineering team led by Page Southerland Page, Biohabitats helped develop a plan that would guide campus development in a way that incorporated the University’s bold energy, water, and habitat goals.

Recognizing that the new campus provided an opportunity to create and support sustainability and serve as a catalyst for positive change in Central Oregon, the team used the Long-Range Development planning process that incorporated environmental, economic, social, cultural, and health/wellness values.

Biohabitats provided water expertise, identifying opportunities and constraints involved in developing a water-neutral campus. Biohabitats’ aim was to change the way campus water resources were planned for and managed. Focused on making water resource planning decisions based on local conditions rather than demand, Biohabitats developed water strategies that would ultimately make OSU-Cascades’ campus water-neutral. The strategies enabled the campus to use only water that falls on the site and eliminate all water quality impacts from the site.

Biohabitats also developed calculations to project future campus water use and provided guidance for phasing water infrastructure. The new water-neutral campus will allow the community to reap financial and environmental benefits from reducing water use and quality impacts. It will also promote water stewardship and recognize water as a precious resource essential to OSU-Cascades’ economy, security, and values. Biohabitats’ infrastructure recommendations will enhance the utilization and protection of water resources from the building scale to the entire watershed.




Physiographic Province

Cascade-Seirra Mountains


Upper Deschutes

Expertise Areas

Infrastructure, Water


Oregon State University


Bend, Oregon, United States

Project Team
  • Page Southerland Page
  • SERA Architects
  • PAE Consulting Engineers
  • Walker Macy
  • DOWL