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Willow Creek Opening

Willow Creek Opening

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Published by: portlandcc on Apr 14, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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National Council for Marketing & Public Relations Paragon Awards Entry
Submitted by Portland Community College (PCC)
PCC Willow Creek Grand Opening and Earth Fair 
With the opening of the new Willow Creek Center, Portland Community College has the mostenvironmentally friendly educational structure in the entire Northwest.Certified as “LEEDPlatinum” (the highest honor a building can attain) by the U.S. Green Building Council, the new100,000-square-foot building includes remarkable “green” features throughout its modernexpanse:
Roof-mounted solar panels will generate more than 100,000 kilowatt-hours per year. Thatwill add up to 37 percent energy cost savings.
Landscaping and irrigation systems designed to reduce potable water consumption by 56percent, saving more than 30,000 gallons annually. The center also has a mechanism to“harvest” rainwater. Plus, inside the building, efficient water features will produce a 75percent water savings, reducing the annual water consumption by an estimated 240,000gallons.
The building was constructed with about 28 percent recycled material. Beyond that,almost 13 percent of the building materials were created within a 500 mile radius and,during construction, 94 percent of waste was diverted from landfills.
The building serves as the college’s new location for the Washington County Workforce TrainingCenter, housing credit classes and key programs of PCC’s Extended Learning Campus. Itincludes seven computer classrooms, 17 general-purpose classrooms, a testing center, four labs, awellness room, and a large multipurpose room for special events.
Our primary objective for a public grand opening of the Willow Creek Center was to generateexcitement about PCC’s new presence in Washington County. This building is one of the firsthighly visible results of PCC’s bond measure, which successfully passed in November 2008. Butwhile we won the vote, our numbers indicated we lost in Washington County – we believe due toa perception that PCC is “Portland’s” community college only, and doesn’t serve WashingtonCounty. The irony is, PCC actually serves all of Washington County – we are the county’sofficial community college – and only parts of the other counties in our district. By holding afamily-friendly event, we sought to increase awareness about our service and commitment to thatcounty, and to let people know about this new resource.Secondly we wanted to make sure the building’s sustainable features got attention. AsWashington County’s first LEED Platinum-certified building, we wished to cultivate a feeling of ownership for the center as a point of “green pride” for the city, and increase PCC’s reputation asa sustainability leader.
This was an opportunity for the public to “meet” PCC on a number of levels. To accomplish our goals, a great deal of planning and partnership with civic and community leaders was undertakento best understand how to communicate. We settled on holding two events: a “pre-event” thattargeted business and community political figures; and a second that invited the general public toa family-friendly earth fair.
Part One
For the first event, we reached out to other public agencies in Washington County and formed acommittee. Together, we were able to convince the Washington County Business Association tohold their quarterly meeting at the new Willow Creek Center, which we hosted with a breakfast.The event featured speeches not just from the PCC President, but from a series of WashingtonCounty leaders who spoke personally about the value of the college to their businesses. Themeeting culminated with a ceremonial unfurling of a banner that formally opened the new center.Guests then were lead on tours of the new facility to view its green features.
Part Two
For the second event, we realized the double value of both
the event, and
for it. By holding the event, we could reach out to families in the area and bring people to the center to experience it first-hand. By advertising the event widely in Washington County, we couldbroadcast both the fact that PCC was opening a new building – but also, that we were reachingout to the community to consider this an accomplishment for which everyone could be proud.We chose to style the event as an “earth fair” and hold it on Saturday, April 24 – national EarthDay. The event featured:
An “expo” room with booths showcasing an array of PCC programs, and decoratedaccording to our theme with grasses, burlap, and other items to convey sustainability.
Farmer’s market booths from the community offering fresh, sustainably harvested food.
Tours of the new Willow Creek Center and its features.
Emergency vehicles like a fire truck, police car, ambulance and more which were popular with kids.
A photo booth for participants to get their pictures with earth-day props. Thecommemorative photo strips featured messaging about Willow Creek along the side.
A local grassroots band.
Earth and sustainably-related “how-to” demonstrations from our teachers.
Peet moss plant decorating for kids. The kids each got to take home a strawberry or marigold plant.
Face painting.
Promotion for the Part Two event included:
Painted bus benches in Washington County.
Mini “billboard” ads printed on the sides of MAX Trains (our mass transit system). TheMAX train tracks run right by the new building and a new “Willow Creek Stop” wasadded.
Radio ads on stations with high listenership in Washington County.
Full-color print ads in county newspapers.
A news feature on PCC’s website homepage – the site receives 10,000 a visits a week.
Posters and fliers distributed internally and throughout the community.
Email blasts.
An animated video designed for our website as well as facebook reposting.
Because our objectives were based on perception, measurement of our goals relied on subjectivemeasures. But we chose to evaluate the event based on indicators like attendance, exposure,participation and enrollment after the event. We faired extremely well on all counts:

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