A four-year university program in Bend has and continues to be supported by the community as a critical component for the vitality of the Central Oregon region.  A four-year university program with OSU Cascades is necessary to expand access to a skilled workforce and attract living-wage businesses to locate and grow in Central Oregon.

In launching its Net Zero Initiative http://www.osucascades.edu/news/gifts-help-launch-osu-cascades-net-zero-campus-initiative , OSU Cascades demonstrates that it can provide leadership far beyond the “what” in four-year programming.  While the four-year campus location is controversial for certain citizens, the campus location also provides an opportunity to lead in the “how” of campus planning and programming.

The Net Zero Initiative would create a campus whose energy consumption, water use and waste disposal is completely offset by energy production and conservation and water and waste recycling.  A Net Zero campus http://www.osucascades.edu/4/sustainable-campus is not only about the legacy left to future generations, but also provides an opportunity for current residents to participate in and benefit from an industry innovation cluster in green energy and sustainable technologies.  It also improves the competitiveness of the university for high-quality students who can use the campus as a live laboratory.  This, in turn, benefits the skilled workforce and attractive business climate in Bend.  Importantly, the co-location of these facilities and amenities within a clustered campus is likely necessary for such a vision to become a reality.  Such co-location of facilities also demonstrates the true value of a master plan.

Although opponents to the campus assert master planning is necessary for the 10-acre site, two levels of city decision-makers have said that the 10-acre campus can move forward standing alone, without master planning and without any changes to the current zoning for that site.  However, it is likely that current zoning districts that could be applied to the 46-acre site do not contemplate siting all of the facilities necessary for a Net Zero campus.

Unlike the 10-acre site, the master planning provisions will provide an opportunity to comprehensively review the campus plan on the 46 acres, including unusual features associated with the Net Zero Initiative, ensure impacts are addressed appropriately and apply a master-planned district that can facilitate features not otherwise allowed.  In summary, OSU Cascades’ Net Zero Initiative is offering leadership that will benefit the community in a variety of ways.  It will not only ensure a responsible legacy, but will strengthen the four-year university in ways that will directly benefit the Central Oregon economy and communities and will also ensure that a robust master planning process will occur for the campus.