Green Field Notes

Nov. 1, 2009
Sustainable-design principles put into action in today's education institutions.
Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School — Washington, D.C.

Architect: Fanning Howey

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

LEED certification was a goal from the very beginning of the project. Sustainable elements were incorporated into the design, and sustainable practices ruled the design/build process. Waste was controlled by combining renovation with new construction, reducing the total amount of construction waste generation by more than 60 percent. Salvageable materials entered the recycling stream, reducing the need for new materials. The original building was restored, including woodwork, slate and terrazzo floors.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Phelps will be one of the first LEED for Schools projects in the Mid-Atlantic. The building uses a rainwater cistern system to support the horticulture/landscape skills educational laboratory program and eliminate the need to use potable water for irrigation and in the greenhouse. Helical wind turbines reduce the school's dependency on fossil fuels. Photovoltaic panels double as architecture cladding elements, reducing overall system costs. A geothermal water loop under the sports field transfers heat from the building to the ground in the summer, and extracts heat from the ground to warm the building in the winter.

Community response

Sustainable elements utilized throughout Phelps High School were designed to enhance the curriculum. The HVAC lab features three alternative heating source units, which serve as practical maintenance trainers. Energy-efficient features serve as demonstration elements, enabling students to monitor energy output from the Earth, sun and wind. This "building as a teaching tool" approach teaches students and the community about the importance and benefits of this type of environmental responsibility. "We are not just teaching young people a trade," says Mayor Adrian Fenty. "We will teach them to learn, work and appreciate green-collar jobs."

Pioneer Middle School — DuPont, Wash.

Architect: DLR Group

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The architect led six design workshops, including an eco-charrette, to develop design goals and an integrated sustainable-design program. The project team also collaborated with educators over a span of eight months to develop specific means to incorporate the building as a tool in the educational experience. As a result of significant conservation measures, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in Washington awarded the district a $350,000 grant to be a volunteer project for the Washington State Sustainable Schools Protocol.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The new building enables students to make an immediate connection to a specific lesson. Outdoor learning courtyards adjacent to the classrooms enable students to monitor plant growth and rainfall, and explore composting concepts.

Interior and exterior signage demonstrates how the design reduced its environmental impact and how users can incorporate sustainable practices.

The building is positioned on its site to preserve and highlight Washington's oldest grove of Garry Oaks and their surrounding savannah. These unique and protected trees inspired the design of the library, which hovers above the commons like a treehouse.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

A comprehensive energy-management system monitors and controls resource consumption, and a touchscreen at the community entrance enables community members to examine seasonal effects and their own conservation efforts, as well as monitor the building's energy usage and resource consumption.

The Atrium School — Watertown, Mass.

Architect: Maryann Thompson Architects

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

Environmentally responsible values guided the design team from the first phase to the last detail. By choosing to renovate an existing industrial building, the school conducted the largest form of recycling, and each finish material selection prioritized recycled content. A new raised floor level admits daylighting and natural ventilation of the occupied spaces. High-efficiency lighting supplements these natural resources, and advanced mechanical systems provide healthy fresh air even in the winter, while saving energy through heat recovery.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The experience of the Atrium student highlights many aspects of sustainable living. Every rainy day, students enter the building under a waterfall of rainwater collection so they can understand how their playground's grass stays green during dry weeks. From the recycled wheatboard lockers to dual-flush toilets, everyday habits remind the children that their choices impact the world around them. That world is present in each classroom through daylighting and cross-ventilation, keeping nature in the child's daily environment.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

The warehouse site occupies the middle of a mixed-use block. By renovating the building and reclaiming former paved areas for pervious landscaping, The Atrium School created a good neighbor for the industry on one side and residences on the other. Now parents, students, teachers and staff love the building they use every day, and the whole community is supportive of the new school in their midst. The greater community also has embraced the building with design and environmental awards, and publications sharing The Atrium School's ideas from Massachusetts to California.

Macalester College, Leonard Center — St. Paul, Minn.

Architect: Hastings & Chivetta Architects

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Green architecture was a huge consideration for the project. Designers created an extremely efficient building by stacking spaces where possible to minimize exterior walls and roofing, thereby saving materials and reducing heat loss. The new facility also uses recycled materials throughout; elevators run on vegetable oil; windows are placed strategically to take advantage of natural light and heat; and the building's design allows for efficient heating and cooling.

Recycling was a priority

  • About 90 percent of the previous facility got reused or recycled.

  • The old fieldhouse was moved west of town to become a horse stable.

Facility goals

  • Enable students to pursue personal fitness, socialize and participate in recreational and varsity team sports.

  • Enhancing the college's ability to recruit and retain students.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, East Hall — Worcester, Mass.

Architect: Cannon Design

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

WPI's East Hall, intended as a model for all future green buildings on campus, embodies the institutional commitment to sustainable practices, supporting the school's academic mission while conserving energy and natural resources. All interior finishes and building materials were chosen for their sustainable merit in order provide the framework for all future campus buildings. Details such as the stormwater monitor and testing station in the ground-floor lobby educate students and the public about green design.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The 4,800-square-foot palletized roof system, situated on 17,800 square feet of Energy Star roofing, was designed to be an experimental roof for educating students and conducting research in green roof technology. The roof has two water-monitoring stations built into the facility to help observe and document stormwater flow reduction and water-quality improvement issues generally associated with green roof technology.

The accomplishments of sustainability also are integral to the aesthetics of the building through the signage and wayfinding system. Each floor is themed with one LEED category subtly expressed in the room signage and aggressively featured as educational information in lobbies where students wait for elevators.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

In a supporting letter, Worcester's mayor, Konstantina B. Lukes, commended the institution on the city's first green roof and its ongoing efforts toward sustainability, also citing WPI's student involvement in the city's first major wind turbine installation at a local high school.

Congressman James P. McGovern, 3rd District, Massachusetts, also wrote, "The university further deserves to be congratulated for its very visible regional leadership and ongoing achievements with facilities sustainability planning."

The New School, Fogelman Library at Arnhold Hall — New York, New York

Architect: Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

Fogelman Library features recycled-surface countertops, made from post-industrial scrap waste, and bamboo flooring in the main reading room. All of the lighting systems and appliances meet Energy Star standards set by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy. In addition to sustainable finishes, existing wood floors were reclaimed and reused in feature locations within the building.

Uninterrupted learning

Phasing of the project kept the building operating throughout the construction process.


Rubber flooring on the second, fourth and ninth floors fulfills all ISO 14001 environmental-management-system requirements and ISO 9001 quality-management standards.

Florida Atlantic University, Business Services Banquet Hall and Food Service Venue — Boca Raton, Fla.

Architect: Gallo Architects & Development Consultants, Inc., D.B.A. Gallo Herbert Lebolo

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

The project's LEED-CI Platinum certification goal required close collaboration among the design team to ensure that conservation and occupant well-being goals would be integrated aesthetically with the functional design requirements. The design also supports staff and patron well-being, both through the use of low-VOC building materials and furnishings throughout, and through views of the restored wetland prairie habitat just beyond the exterior patio dining area.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

To make optimal use of the abundance of available daylight, the team developed an energy-efficient lighting design, using effective perimeter zoning and photosensor lighting controls that will ensure unneeded electric lighting is not in use during daylighted hours. Efficient plumbing fixtures are situated in the shared common restrooms. As an additional conservation contribution, the food-service design team specified water-efficient food-prep faucets and hand-wash faucets. Numerous recycled content and regionally manufactured products and finishes were selected. Low-VOC coatings, sealants and adhesives and non-urea formaldehyde wood products have been specified for use throughout. In addition, GREENGUARD furnishings were specified to safeguard the indoor air quality further.

Community response

The university's community response can be summed up best by Karl K. Stevens, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science: "The college's green building initiative is to construct a facility that will be a showcase and 'living laboratory' for sustainable development and that will qualify for platinum-level certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council. This facility will be unique in the state of Florida and will provide, among many other things, a comfortable, healthy environment and good support space for faculty, staff and students."

Paradise Elementary School — Paradise, Pa.

Architect: EI Associates

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The opportunity to create a high-performance, environmentally friendly building that was better able to prepare for future energy needs was a driving force for the Pequea Valley School District. The new school is built on the 17-acre site of the existing Paradise Elementary School as a means of conserving natural land resources. The site design of the new building follows the slope of the existing topography for minimum disturbance of the land and has multiple levels to preserve as much open space as possible.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The main classroom wing is oriented on an east-west axis to take advantage of daylighting opportunities. Shared facilities are on the entry level, minimizing circulation space, and enable the gymnasium/cafeteria/auditorium space to be used easily by the community after hours. A ground-source heat-pump system with heat recovery for ventilation air systems, along with other energy-savings measures, enabled the school to achieve all 10 LEED credits for optimized energy performance. Water efficiency was another important consideration in the design of the new school. Through the use of rainwater harvesting, low-consumption fixtures, waterfree urinals and the use of recycled wastewater for irrigation, the building has achieved a water-use reduction of more than 40 percent.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

The school has been featured on local newspapers and news channels as being a "showcase facility." The theme is "Respect for self; Respect for others; Respect for the world around us." The principal of Paradise Elementary says that great intentions and purpose were given to the design processes. The new school will be the first elementary school in Lancaster County, Pa., to achieve LEED gold certification and will be a focus of a green building education plan for the community.

The Chapin School, Addition and Alterations — New York, New York

Architect: Marner Architecture

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The Chapin School was committed to sustainable design from the beginning, so the architect took a comprehensive approach to sustainability, from mechanical systems to finishes. All of the sustainable initiatives were maintained within the strict cost-control parameters of the project.

Unique green aspects of the facility

  • A daylight dimming system dims or turns off the light fixtures depending on the amount of natural light available.

  • Finish materials, such as linoleum, carpet tile and toilet partitions, either have high recycled content or are made of rapidly renewable plant materials.

  • Water-based paints, adhesives and sealants are low-emitting.

  • Water-efficiency measures included harvesting rainwater for greenhouse irrigation, dual-flush toilets and metered faucets.

  • On the exterior, two different types of shading devices control sunlight before it hits the low-e glass of the large operable window assemblies. The daylight diffusing glass in the transoms creates a milky stripe above the clear vision glass and provides an additional layer of glare-free natural light.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

The school community was extremely responsive to the sustainable aspects of the project. A group of students formed an environmental committee and educated the rest of the school community about these aspects. They also prepared boards and presented at the Green Schools Alliance meeting, a nationwide organization of K-12 schools committed to the environment.

Middlebury College, Axinn Center at Starr Library and Biomass Facility — Middlebury, Vt.

Architect: CBT Architects

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

Instead of the LEED-required 500-mile radius, the project primarily utilizes local building materials within 50 miles of the Vermont borders, and renewable products and services for construction. Also, materials were harvested from the deconstruction of the 1960s library space for recycling or reuse on the historical Starr Library facade. The existing exterior marble facade from the 1980s addition was reused as compacted fill around the site. A substantial construction waste-management program was instituted for all materials not reused on the site, including copper, drywall and steel.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The college believes quantity and quality of daylight and fresh air in the environment directly affect human welfare, especially during winter months. The design of the Axinn Center at Starr Library includes a light-filled, glass-enclosed winter garden and a landscaped, south-facing courtyard that provides ample southern light and auxiliary heating in the winter months; during the summer, a shading brise soleil protects the passage from direct southeast sun and its heat. The center ties into the college's central steam system as part of Middlebury's 2004 goal of the reducing carbon emissions to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Biomass Facility is a cogeneration system powered by wood chips — a local, renewable, carbon-neutral fuel. This facility will cut the college's use of #6 fuel oil in half and put it close to achieving its initial carbon-reduction goal.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

The Axinn Center at Starr Library is one of the most successful and heavily used in the college's recent building program because of the variety of learning spaces. The sunny Winter Garden is especially popular with students on this far north campus, where seasonal affective disorder is a very real concern. The Biomass Facility is more than a power plant. From the start, it has created opportunities for Middlebury students to develop urgently needed skills in energy research and planning. They join people in the community, including loggers, foresters, farmers and parts manufacturers, in creating a better energy future.

Cambridge War Memorial Athletic Center — Cambridge, Mass.

Architect: HMFH Architects, Inc.

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

Because this urban facility — open 14 hours a day and serving as Cambridge's central community athletic facility — is used so heavily, materials were selected for visual appeal and durability. Daylighting, including the reopening of clerestory windows over the pools — long since covered over — also improves aesthetics while reaping energy savings. Energy Star appliances were selected in place of their less sustainable counterparts, and FSC-certified wood was used for the new gymnasium floor.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Because the architect also is responsible for renovations at the adjacent high school, the team coordinated cogeneration production of electricity to benefit both facilities. Waste heat from cogeneration will be used by school in winter and, in summer, by War Memorial for heating pool water and domestic hot water. Occupancy sensors improve efficiency in a variety of ways: carbon-dioxide sensors allow for adjustment of outside-air ventilation rates to suit actual occupancy needs; the variable-speed chiller matches cooling capacity to building load, using ozone-friendly refrigerant; and daylight sensors dim artificial lights when daylight is present. In addition, the site supports sustainable transportation options: it is mass transit-accessible, offers ample bicycle racks, and has on-site parking reserved for carpools and fuel-efficient vehicles.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

The city of Cambridge, known for its active and opinionated residents, seeks to be at the forefront when it comes to sustainability policy. This community's commitment to environmental responsibility is shown by its ambitious sustainability goals, including legislation requiring that all new and renovated projects undertaken by the city meet LEED silver criteria. The War Memorial Athletic Center is no exception: On the sustainable campus it shares with the city's public high school and main public library — both of which are undergoing LEED silver renovations — War Memorial holds its own.

Phoenix College, Fine Arts Building — Phoenix

Architect: DLR Group

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

Sustainability was a central project goal, so green materials and resources were specified early in the design process. Local materials were emphasized to reduce transportation costs and support the local economy. Additionally, materials were selected based on sustainability criteria that included high recycled content, rapidly renewable materials and a low-VOC-emitting rating.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Extensive daylighting on the north side of the building increases light throughout the entire building, but is of special interest to the painting/drawing studio where artists benefit from direct and plentiful light for their projects. In the pottery classroom, high-heat kilns were situated out of the interior spaces to enable outdoor ventilation to dissipate heat while using economical evaporative cooling systems to cool the space. This not only conserves operational costs, but also extends the life of the interior HVAC by reducing the load that would have been required if the kilns were inside.

Community response

One of the college's goals was to set an example of sustainability for the community. This was achieved through a holistic design approach and incorporation of sustainable strategies. Because this project was publicly funded, it was important to communicate the outcome of this endeavor to the community and project contributors. A dedication gala was held to unveil the building to the public, making use of the outdoor patio adjacent to the art gallery for presentations and festivities. A dedication brochure was created to communicate project details and images to the public. Nearly 500 guests attended the event and the opening of the facility and its new Eric Fischl Art Gallery.

Wartburg College, Wartburg-Waverly Sports & Wellness Center — Waverly, Iowa

Architect: Hastings & Chivetta Architects, Inc.

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

Although not applying for LEED certification, the architect implemented several sustainable initiatives in the planning of this project. The facility has a very tight, insulated exterior wall and roof construction. The building, although very large, was designed to be quite open. This enables exterior views from deep within the building. The openness also allows for daylighting to be carried further into the building core, which was helped by the addition of a clerestory window in the main concourse.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

  • Durable, long-lasting materials require little maintenance.

  • The interior spaces have individual lighting controls and occupancy sensors.

  • Fluorescent lighting was used throughout the facility, even in the high-bay areas.

  • The mechanical system is a high-efficiency system using central cooling towers and boilers, reclaimed heat from the pool dehumidification system to heat the pool, and a free winter air chiller.

Green footnote

  • All materials used in the building are VOC-free.

C.W. Morey Elementary School — Lowell, Mass.

Architect: Flansburgh Architects

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

  • Emphasis on daylighting in classrooms, gym and library to reduce use of electrical lights.

  • Building is organized to have longer south-north facades and shorter east-west facades to reduce heat gain from sun exposure.

  • Exterior fixed sunshades on the south facade windows reduce heat gain from sun.

  • Interior lights are on occupancy sensors.

  • Mechanical system minimizes or eliminates ductwork by being sized for small repeated modules.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The strategy early on was to minimize materials, reducing the amount of manufacturing energy, travel energy and material production that typically goes into a construction project. The structural system is exposed to reduce interior finishes. Ductwork, piping and wiring are consolidated to reduce runs.

Green footnote

A green roof area provides some stormwater management next to a play yard.

Grand Rapids Community College, Vegetated Roof — Grand Rapids, Mich.

Architect: GMB Architecture + Engineering

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The inherent nature of the vegetated roof project at Grand Rapids Community College was the desire to create a sustainable roofscape on a 20-year-old building and create a teaching tool for the community. The trays containing the plantings are made from recyclable materials, and the observation decks are made of Ipe decking, a recyclable wood material grown in sustainable forests.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The nearly half-acre vegetated roof project:

  • Creates a long-term solution for the maintaining of the roof membrane.

  • Saves energy through added insulation value.

  • Adds acoustical value to spaces within the building.

  • Reduces the urban heat-island effect.

  • Adds relief to the city's stormwater system by absorbing rainwater.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

This project was made possible through a generous gift from the Steelcase Foundation. It liked the idea that the roof would be designed using sustainable principles and would be a focal point to the college's sustainability council's goal to teach students as well. The plaza outside the Heritage Restaurant provides a new vegetated environment for dining, a popular working classroom for the culinary-arts program, and an herb garden to grow herbs used in the restaurant.

Swiftwater Elementary Center — Swiftwater, Pa.

Architect: Gilbert Architects Inc.

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

For the site, stormwater quality was enhanced through the use of wetland plantings in the basin as a means for natural water-cleaning practices; the water quantity control was reduced by 45 percent through the means of effective stormwater management. Life-cycle costs analyses were performed to determine the useful life of the products specified for the building, including replacement costs. For example, the asphalt roof shingles and cementitious siding have a 50-year warranty.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Situated in the snow belt of Pennsylvania, pitched roofs were designed to house the mechanical units under the roof to operate more efficiently and to prolong the life expectancy of the units. The high-efficiency VAV system with duel-fuel gas and oil back-up provide a complete system that is energy-efficient and operates under ideal conditions. The classrooms all have natural light with occupancy sensors to reduce energy costs when unoccupied. Where direct sunlight is not appropriate, diffused natural light is provided through a skylight at the main entrance and at the clerestory windows in the gymnasium.

Community response

The innovative and environmental education tools used for this 1,200-student elementary school have facilitated a user-friendly building that is used by the community and the students that it serves. For example, the graphic tools used to navigate the building incorporate an animal from the local surroundings at each entrance of the grade-level houses. Corresponding animals are used on interior signage to help direct the younger students that otherwise may get lost in such a large building. This theme was carried through to the library to enhance awareness of the community in which students live and learn.

Elgin Academy, Harold D. Rider Family Media Science and Fine Arts Center Project — Elgin, Ill.

Architect: DLA Architects, Ltd.

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

The project site is on a previously developed urban brownfield site and is within a half-mile of many basic services and bus routes. The site design includes an exterior terrace on the west side of the building and a courtyard facing the campus quad. Concrete was used for these spaces for its high solar-reflectance index, contributing to reducing the heat-island effect. These outdoor spaces also maximized the open space of the campus, providing usable program spaces for outdoor events and educational programs. Retaining walls shape planting beds landscaped with drought-resistant plant materials.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The building is situated on a hillside. A significant portion of the first and second floor is below grade, using the Earth as a natural insulator. The building is oriented so the main spaces of the building take advantage of the view of the river valley. Sunshades were engineered to control the sunlight from the west. The primary occupancy spaces, such as the classrooms and offices, were designed with large operable windows to take advantage of the views of the Fox River Valley and campus quad. The school itself is a teaching tool. Each science class features a curricular environmental focus, and students of all ages are engaged in monitoring the performance of the building. The academy also is investigating the purchase of handheld devices, which will help students view the air quality of the building on an ongoing basis.

Community response

Community arts organizations, government officials and project stakeholders were invited take part in a day of creative thinking and discussion to outline the energy and environmental design aspects for the new building during an all-day eco-charrette. This collaboration has resulted in two exciting alliances: the Elgin OPERA has moved its corporate offices and most of its rehearsals and performances into the new Rider Center; and the Elgin Theatre Company has scheduled all of its upcoming shows in the facility or related academy facilities. The academy has also entered into a partnership agreement with the city to share related off-site development and infrastructure costs.

University of Kansas, Krehbiel Scholarship Hall — Lawrence, Kan.

Architect: Treanor Architects

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Krehbiel Hall was built on a previously developed site, which reduces sprawl and avoids the need for new infrastructure. A geothermal mechanical system uses the Earth's relatively constant temperature to provide heating and cooling for the building. Although no energy modeling was performed on this project, studies of similar installations have shown an estimated 21 percent reduction in energy usage.

Green initiatives

Native Kansas limestone and locally manufactured brick comprise the building's exterior skin. Railing elements, ironwork, spindles, wood paneling and a pendant light fixture all were recovered from previously razed buildings on the KU campus and incorporated into the design.

Green light

Daylight was maximized throughout all private and public spaces.

Hillside Elementary School — New Richmond, Wis.

Architect: ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

Products specified place a strong emphasis on those that could be provided locally. Indoor air quality is maintained through maximizing the amount of outdoor air and at the same time capturing latent energy exhausted from the building through the use of heat-recovery wheels.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

Before a single line was drawn, the community was asked what was important in a new school building. Safety and security of students was the top priority. Building a school that is healthful, energy-efficient and would keep jobs in the local economy also were paramount. The community has been delighted to witness its ideas "coming to life" as the campus rises at the southern gateway to the city of New Richmond.

Washington and Lee University, James Graham Leyburn Library — Lexington, Va.

Architect: SFCS, Inc.

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

Although the previous space was dark and cluttered with traditional finishes, the design team had the goal of modernizing the library in a sustainable way, thus using what they could incorporate into the new space, and recycling and repurposing other materials where possible. It also was important in the selection of new furniture, finishes and equipment that the choices improve the interior quality and operations, and that the design allows for flexibility.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Green aspects of Leyburn Library's renovation include new carpet that contains a minimum of 25 percent recycled content; low-VOC paints and adhesives; existing wood tables that were refinished; reused lecterns, encyclopedia stands and bookcases; and shelving and library equipment that were modified and reused. The carpet that was in the original space was recycled, and the new carpet tiles allow for flexibility and quick replacement, if necessary, with less waste. All of the lighting was updated to meet current energy standards, and lighting controls were improved to reduce energy consumption and give staff greater control over usage.

Sound strategies

Although this project was not renovated for LEED certification, many aspects of the design follow sustainable strategies and solutions that meet LEED guidelines. Library staff considered sustainability and minimizing waste important aspects in the design. The recycling and reuse of existing library equipment and furniture was part of the early discussions in designing for the new interior and was carried through in the design. In some cases, choosing to recycle and reuse an item from the original space involved more cost; however, the overriding goal of having less impact on the environment from waste was considered more important.

Angelo State University, Centennial Village Residence Hall and Commons — San Angelo, Texas

Architect: Randall Scott Architects

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

  • Carpet utilized a high percentage of recycled material content.

  • Roofing was high-albedo, reducing the heat-island effect.

  • Most products on the project were manufactured within a 500-mile radius.

  • The reuse and densification of building on site increased green space and provided a smaller building footprint with significantly less impermeable paving.

  • High-efficiency, individually controlled HVAC units.

Getting students involved

Power usage in each living unit is individually metered with feedback available online to students. Contests are run each month rewarding students whose living unit uses the least amount of power.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

Students were insistent that the residence halls they live in be sustainably responsible. Students living in Centennial Village have made the decision to live there based on its sustainable design features.

Lee H. Means Elementary School — Harlingen, Texas

Architect: Gignac & Associates, LLP

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The new Lee H. Means Elementary School has been designed and constructed to maximize the energy efficiency of the building, improve indoor air quality and minimize the impact on the environment. The school's orientation on the site and the building's exterior envelope were considered carefully to provide optimum energy efficiency. Solar shading devices are used at the windows that receive the most direct sun exposure. These shading devices provide control of solar heat gain, but admit daylight into each classroom and most occupied spaces.

Green aspects

Energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems have been used to maximize energy efficiency. The building envelope and ventilation system are designed to provide healthful and comfortable indoor air quality.

Environmental impact

Materials with high recycled content and low VOCs have been used to minimize the building's effect on the environment.

University of California—Berkeley, Bancroft Library (Doe Annex) Renovation

Architect: Ratcliff

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The university's goal of LEED certification equivalence for this rare-books library within a historic building was achieved by coordination of sustainability and preservation strategies.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

  • Controlled demolition process limits chemical contamination.

  • Low-VOC paints and sealants.

  • High recycled content of finishes (carpet, pad, wood casework, linoleum flooring, steel and ornamental metals).

  • Highly renewable finishes (cork flooring, linoleum flooring, FSC-certified wood products).

Planning for best energy use

  • The location of long-term collections storage in below-grade spaces helps to conserve energy over time by isolation of the controlled temperature and humidity areas.

  • Office, seminar and reading rooms use perimeter UV-filtered daylight where possible.

  • Occupancy and daylight sensors with integrated lighting controls reduce energy demand from building lighting and corresponding cooling loads.

Waterloo High School — Waterloo, Ill.

Architect: Design Architects Inc.

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

White roofing membrane was used on all low-sloped roofs. Clear anodized aluminum standing-seam roofing was used on the balance of roofs. The solar reflective index of these products reduce the heat-island effect, which helps reduce costs related to heating and cooling, as well as minimize any impact on microclimate and wildlife habitat.

Building energy systems were designed to comply with ASHRAE 90.1 to lower overall energy consumption within the building. This includes occupancy sensors for lighting, high-efficiency mechanical systems and an overall building-automation system.

The building mechanical systems exceeded the minimum outdoor air rates required by ASHRAE 62.1 which will lead to greater fresh air rates within the school that in turn will enhance the learning environment for students.

What are some unique green aspects on the facility?

Special hand washers/dryers were used in all public toilets in lieu of the traditional lavatory: the hand washer/dryer dispenses liquid soap, heats water instantaneously, and dries with blown hot air all in one unit. The unit improves hygiene, eliminates paper towel waste and, because it contains its own instant hot-water heater, reduces energy consumption, as well as material costs and waste; only cold-water supply piping is needed.

Heat-pump systems were designed within the building on a single-pipe hydronic system that is intended to be converted to a geothermal hydronic loop to maximize energy efficiency for the district.

Green on the outside

Only indigenous, climate-tolerant plants were used in landscaped areas. These local species can survive on natural rainfall quantities and require no additional watering; permanent irrigation systems did not have to be installed.

Minooka Community High School, South Campus — Channahon, Ill.

Architect: STR Partners LLC

What are some unique green aspects of the site?

  • Landscaping of native plant materials.

  • Managed stormwater runoff.

  • The building's east-west orientation.

  • Multi-story wing to maximize green space.

  • Trees in parking lots to reduce heat-island effect.

  • No landscaping irrigation.

Indoor environmental quality

  • Mechanical system designed for indoor air quality.

  • Ventilation system providing outside air.

  • Thermal comfort.

  • Good acoustical performance.

  • Low-emitting materials.

  • Pollutant and chemical source control.

  • Quality lighting.

  • Daylighting/natural light.

Energy-efficiency notes

  • Energy-efficient mechanical system.

  • Heat-recovery system.

  • No CFC refrigerants.

  • Energy-efficient light fixtures (fluorescent and LED).

  • Occupancy sensors.


  • Renewable building products.

  • Most products from local sources (within 500 miles).

River Crest Elementary School — Hudson, Wis.

Architect: Hoffman, LLC

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

Interior and exterior finish products were selected based on sustainable qualities: recycled content, regional proximity, responsible harvesting methods, maintenance demands, contribution to energy efficiency and overall life cycle. All toilets and faucets in the building have a low-flow rate to ensure optimal water-use reduction. The maintenance staff has adopted a detailed housekeeping plan, implementing the exclusive use of cleaning products meeting Green Seal certification. Recycling was considered through designated recycling areas in the building's design.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

River Crest Elementary is the first LEED gold-certified elementary school in Wisconsin. Special attention was paid to "cool daylighting:" the architect collaborated with a window company to develop a window made entirely of FSC-certified wood and glazing with a visible transmittance of 20 percent to reduce glare and solar heat gain of east, west and south-facing windows. It is the first of its kind and was developed for this project.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

Hudson School District's new River Crest School has set the bar for new commercial and educational construction around the region. Not only has River Crest become a tipping point for sustainability action throughout the region, but its lower cost of construction (vs. conventional construction) and lower cost of operations mandates others to follow suit. This school has become a beacon for Hudsonites seeking quality education for their children. And, as the economy flounders, the wise planning choices implemented at River Crest will pay bigger dividends in the future both in terms of real dollars and educational opportunities.

Skyline High School — Ann Arbor, Mich.

Architect: TMP Architecture, Inc.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

During the planning process, designers and school administrators agreed that Skyline High School needed a symbol. The solution was a sculptural roof-mounted wind turbine, situated at the school's highest point. The turbine provides a dynamic, moving visual on an otherwise motionless structure, and symbolizes the school's forward-thinking curriculum, environmental awareness and high-tech environment.

Teaching tool

As a functional teaching tool, the omni-directional spinning wind turbine is connected to conduit that links to science labs within the school. Students monitor the turbine's energy generation, and discover answers to questions such as, "What time of year does wind generate the most energy?" or "How many wind turbines would provide adequate power for a classroom, a school or an entire community?"

Site treatment

The site development was treated as an extension of the existing environment, which includes a densely forested surrounding community. Developing only 65 acres of the 110-acre property preserved the natural woodlands and wetlands.

Columbia Adventist Academy, Replacement Classroom Building — Battle Ground, Wash.

Architect: Manley Architects

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

The existing campus was heated by an antiquated steam boiler. A primary greening strategy was to improve energy efficiency. Independent high-efficiency boilers were provided in all campus buildings, and the inefficient existing central boiler system was taken offline. Natural ventilation and extensive daylighting were incorporated into the final design. Sustainable components such as engineered wood products and low-VOC coatings were used. During demolition of replaced buildings, materials were separated for recycling and minimal impact to the local waste-handling systems.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The classroom wing, library and forum space are naturally ventilated using operable windows set high in each area. These windows operate remotely through the mechanical control system using individually controlled motors, which are linked to the HVAC control system via a series of relays. The controller/relay sets are arranged so windows can be opened and closed in a variety of ways for optimal cooling.

The HVAC control system enables school staff to remotely monitor inside and outside air temperatures and conditions, and open and close windows remotely accordingly. Staff also can choose to pre-program set times or temperature set points to open and close windows automatically for the changing seasons.

Community response

The response from the community has been enthusiastic and supportive. The general contractor (GC), Erwin Construction, at first was tentative regarding active components of the natural ventilation system. As construction progressed, it became apparent how effective this system would be when complete. The GC became the most enthusiastic cheerleader for the ventilation system and took a proactive role in piecing together the critical window controller/relay interface. The community was excited to see removal of its museum-piece boiler and leaky campuswide system of steam tunnels. With new compact, high-efficiency boilers, the school's smaller energy bills also are getting a warm response.

Centre College, Pearl Hall — Danville, Ky.

Architect: Hastings & Chivetta Architects

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

To facilitate a team approach, an eco-charrette was held at the beginning of the design process, attended by the design team and Centre College stakeholders. The group discussed sustainable strategies and how they could be integrated into the project. Insight was provided relative to the applicability of each particular credit of the LEED rating system and how these strategies could achieve points. The overall objective was not to "chase LEED points," but rather to develop a collaborative effort that enabled attendees to come to consensus on the most practical and applicable strategies.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Pearl Hall is the first building in Kentucky to receive LEED gold certification. One of the most important initiatives for this project was drilling a geothermal-well field of 65 wells drilled 300 feet deep for the ground-source heat-pump system. Ground temperatures of 50° to 55° degrees are used to heat and cool the hall, reducing carbon-dioxide emissions and eliminating the need for exposed roof-level cooling units. During the winter months, when the subsurface is warmer than the air above ground, the system transfers heat upward. During summer months, the heat is transferred down. Other green elements include energy-saving HVAC, individual temperature controls, efficient windows, regionally procured materials, materials made of recycled content and with low- or no VOCs, energy-efficient lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures and water-efficient landscaping.

Doing the math

The 2 percent initial added investment (based on construction cost) will realize a 20 percent life-cycle savings, as well as have a positive impact on the environment and the quality of life for Centre College students.

Rogers Heritage High School — Rogers, Ark.

Architect: Hight-Jackson Associates, PA

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The new Rogers Heritage High School was built on the existing site of the former Rogers High School, which was being used as a sophomore campus. Since the decision was made to remodel existing buildings and incorporate those spaces into the new building design, there was no new site development, and resources and materials were reused where possible in the remodeling of about 100,000 square feet of existing space.

Green light

The building was designed to incorporate light sensors to reduce energy use.

Project challenge

One challenge for this expanded high school was that it be "equitable" with the city's existing high school in appearance, size and opportunities for learning.

The Children's School — Stamford, Conn.

Architect: Maryann Thompson Architects with Maryann Strong

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

The materials palette of natural and regional materials was selected primarily for its durability and sustainability. Interior finishes with low toxicity and free of VOCs create a learning environment with the best possible indoor air quality. Recycled products are used for the finish materials, as well as for the structural members. In addition, finishes include rapidly renewable materials; many products are harvested and manufactured locally. To conserve water, plumbing fixtures with reduced water-capacity functions were chosen. Native and adaptive plant species were used to avoid the need for irrigation.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The school is designed as a passive solar building with cross ventilation in order to reduce the use of mechanical systems. The school opens up to the south and employs a thermal mass created by a thickened slab, enabling maximum winter sun intake and heat storage. In the summer, deep overhangs and louvers modulate the sun entering the building. Cross ventilation and the stack effect are used to increase wind flow through the building, eliminating the need for air conditioning. The design also admits natural light to all regularly occupied spaces, reducing the need for artificial lighting.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

Environmental responsibility is embedded in the school's value system and curriculum. From the beginning of the design process, the school understood the building as an educational teaching tool — like its Montessori learning materials — designed to teach about the natural world and the importance of energy and conservation. Throughout the building, placards label and explain the sustainable strategies implemented in the school. These lessons are integrated into curriculums that expand on the strategies and concepts that the building illustrates.

University of Kansas, Boathouse — Lawrence, Kan.

Architect: Treanor Architects, PA

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Nestled into a grove of cottonwood trees, the University of Kansas Boathouse was sited to have a positive impact on the environment, preserve open space, maximize river views and capitalize on natural light. The building's dramatic team room is flooded with natural light and incorporates renewable bamboo wood paneling.

Green footnotes

The exterior features regionally processed and manufactured site-cast concrete walls, an abundance of insulated, high-solar-gain, low-e glass, and a deep overhanging roof for shading. Taking advantage of expansive river views, the building's dramatic team room is surrounded by an environmentally friendly Brazilian hardwood deck.

Weather considerations

The boathouse is in the Kaw River floodway and is designed to accommodate floodwater up to 8 feet above the lower-level floor.

Bismarck State College, National Energy Center of Excellence — Bismarck, N.D.

Architect: EAPC

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The building serves as a learning lab for the Department of Energy at Bismarck State University. It was predetermined to incorporate sustainable design features and green products into all aspects of the design process and construction. Using LEED standards as a guide, sustainable products and systems were selected, evaluated and included throughout the building. An independent energy consultant assisted in the evaluation of how the building would function as a whole with a given combination of systems.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Designed to meet LEED silver, the sustainable design features include retractable solar shades regulating daylighting in 75 percent of the building; geothermal heating/cooling; fly-ash concrete and block; and reliance on regional sources for building materials with low VOCs and 20 percent recycled content.

Situated on the edge of Bismarck State College's hilltop campus, the site is dominated by dramatic views of the Missouri River valley. Instead of placing new construction on the crown of the knoll, the building is nestled into the hillside. A narrow building footprint maximizes southern exposure and daylighting.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

The energy-generation community and college alumni showed their support of Bismarck State College's role in the future — and conservation — of energy by providing donations that funded the majority of the project.

River City High School, West Sacramento Recreation Center — West Sacramento, Calif.

Architect: DLR Group

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

The design team worked collaboratively with the city of West Sacramento's Department of Parks and Recreation, Washington Unified School District and the community to create a state-of-the-art joint-use recreational center on the campus of a new high school. The design integrates durable materials appropriate to a high school with emphasis on regionally available, low VOC-emitting and recycled materials. Early design processes included a roof photovoltaic system study and a high-efficiency HVAC system.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Sustainable design began with proper site orientation to capitalize on daylighting features and reduce heat gain naturally. The gymnasium is lighted naturally during the day using high-performance daylighting systems, which reduce the use of lighting fixtures to primarily evening hours. White, reflective rooftop coating decreases the heat-island effect to better secure indoor environment from transfer of heat to and from exterior. All high-traffic common areas and corridors use stained concrete flooring. The campus includes a 7.5-acre riparian habitat, acting as a buffer to railroad tracks along the east side of the site.

Green rewards

The design exceeded state Title 24 standards and was able to participate in the Savings by Design program sponsored by the public utilities commission.

Rudolfo Anaya Elementary School — Albuquerque, N.M.

Architect: Van H. Gilbert Architect PC

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

Green material selections that contributed to the success of the project included aluminum window/storefront frames that consisted of at least 40 percent recycled content; structural steel that consisted of more than 90 percent recycled content; and carpeting that consisted of more than 30 percent recycled content. To prevent the off-gassing of harmful chemicals, low-emitting paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, carpets and composite woods were used. The design team used an integrated design process to explore various ways to achieve optimum building performance.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

  • A closed-loop solar collector water heating system was designed to accommodate the hot-water needs for the entire building. The system includes an energy-monitoring display in the school's main corridor so students, parents and staff can see, in real time, how many BTUs the system is generating and how much money the system saves.

  • The air-handling units were designed with an economizer section that enables the units to run on 100 percent free outside air.

  • Energy-efficient, pendant-type fluorescent fixtures provide a cost savings in overall power consumption. Occupancy sensors make sure the lights are off in unoccupied spaces.

  • Interior water fixtures designed to use 40 percent less water, low-flow urinals, water closets and faucet sensors reduce water use in restrooms.

Community response

The students, teachers and staff of each of the prototype schools are excited to learn about the environmental benefits and are proud to be at the forefront of environmental design. "The prototype is a green built school with renewable and recycled materials used in the construction which has been meaningful for the families … the school has wonderful environmental benefits," says Jamie Jacobson, principal at one of the prototype schools.

Millstadt Consolidated School Primary Center — Millstadt, Ill.

Architect: BLDD Architects, Inc.

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

The ultimate goal of the district was to create a high-performance facility that was affordable, energy-efficient, environmentally responsible, healthful and safe. Building models were created to determine the interaction and life-cycle cost of various systems such as glazing, exterior wall construction, mechanical systems and lighting types. Careful consideration was given to designing the building envelope to optimize energy efficiency, including insulation types to prevent air infiltration. A variety of materials were considered, and recycled products were used where possible. Attention was paid to the site, taking into account the building orientation. The building was orientated off the east west axis to follow the natural terrain, reduce site disturbance, and develop a relationship to the adjacent park. Park paths were extended to the school's front door to encourage walking or biking from nearby neighborhoods and allow kids to go play at the park or walk to the local pool without crossing the street.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The Millstadt CS Primary Center initially was designed with a hybrid system that could be converted easily into a geothermal system. Halfway through construction, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation awarded a grant to the school district. This grant, along with the community's support, enabled them to complete the geothermal system with a turnkey loop field. Available cooling then enabled additional summer activities to become a reality. Program spaces were combined into multi-use spaces, and the building was zoned between shared and classroom spaces to reduce the building's size, cost and environmental impact. The proximity to the Village Park and existing school created an educational complex easily reached on foot, enabling shared use of facilities.

Community response

Community support has been overwhelmingly positive. The construction of this building came at a time of record increases in utility costs, which heightened the necessity to seek innovative solutions. As a small community, news of the district's intent to use a geothermal system gained immediate attention of citizens and the media. The district took great pride in the new mechanical system and continues to share its genuine excitement with others. Parents are happy their children are learning in a healthy and safe building; the community is happy to have a place for them after hours and during the summer; and the district is happy to have an affordable, high-performance building.

Angelo State University, Plaza Verde Residence Hall — San Angelo, Texas

Architect: Randall Scott Architects

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

  • Designed as a LEED gold facility.

  • Green roof (partial) with shaded outdoor seating area.

  • Greywater-recycling system.

  • Rainwater-harvesting system.

  • Highly efficient HVAC systems.

  • High-albedo roofing to reduce heat-island effect.

  • Low-flow water fixtures and xeriscape landscaping to reduce water usage.

Use if ICF wall system to reduce energy loss at building envelope

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The flex-unit concept and ICF exterior wall construction with clear-span structural system between the exterior wall and public corridor enable the building shell to remain while interior renovation/remodel is performed in the future, thereby reducing future landfill needs for future renovations on this 75-year building substantially. The flex-unit concept provides residence-life directors the ability to adapt unit types to the varying needs of students as demographics and residence-life programming needs change. A flex-unit residence hall can adapt to provide any size and type living unit required by students or staff. Students can select their preferred number of roommates/suite-mates and the price point, providing students with flexibility and control over their environment.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

Student surveys conducted on this residence hall provided highly positive responses from students about this innovative concept.

Westside Elementary School — Valdosta, Ga.

Architect: J. Glenn Gregory and Associates Architects PC

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The generous use of brick, glass and daylighting provides an open, secure and energy-efficient design.

Green design features

  • The use of regional and recycled materials.

  • Energy-efficient glazing in large glass lobby.

  • Two-story design provides clerestories for ample natural light.

  • Water-saving plumbing fixtures.

  • Sensory occupancy lighting.

  • Cool roof materials.

  • Well-utilized site design.

A place to play

The two-story design created separate upper- and lower-grade playgrounds.

East Central College, Nursing, Health and Science Building — Union, Mo.

Architect: Hastings & Chivetta Architects

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Finish materials have low levels of VOC content. Plumbing fixtures are fitted with water-saving features. Energy-saving fluorescent lamps in conjunction with high-efficiency electronic ballasts are used throughout the building. Multi-zone lighting control stations in conjunction with occupancy sensors provide for lighting-system efficiencies. Areas within the building provide for collection of recyclables.

Efficiency footnotes

Computer modeling was utilized to optimize the HVAC system design and to minimize energy usage. Building mechanical systems are controlled by a DDC energy-management system to optimize the efficiency of the equipment.

Sustainable considerations

LEED certification was not pursued, but many sustainable components were incorporated into the design. Locally available materials were used when possible, and equipment and materials were specified toward manufacturers who prioritize recycled content in their production process.

Jefferson Elementary School, Additions and Remodeling — Omaha, Neb.

Architect: Jackson-Jackson & Associates, Inc.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Energy conservation was a major objective in the expansion of this school from 36,000 square feet to 62,200 square feet. Clerestories in existing classrooms were maintained to introduce natural light into the classrooms and subsequently into adjacent corridors. Thermally efficient windows replaced single-pane glass, and an abundance of natural light was introduced into the main entry of the building, utilizing highly rated, low-e reflective glass.

Green from the ground up

A large, energy-consuming boiler was removed, and a ground-loop heat-pump system was installed to provide both heating and cooling. Eighty-four wells were drilled under the parking lot and playground areas to a depth of 289 feet each. This system is expected to provide a payback in seven years.

Community consideration

Community use of the building was a key element in the design of this facility, as the building was designed to be secure after school hours. A new multipurpose room with support spaces was provided to accommodate after-school community activities.

East Stroudsburg Elementary School — East Stroudsburg, Pa.

Architect: Buchart Horn, Inc./BASCO Associates

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

Design choices were made with a twofold consideration: be fiscally responsible with the district's budget, and select materials that not only were sustainable in composition, but also offered practical solutions for ongoing maintenance and operations. For example, ceramic tile was used instead of vinyl composition tile, which results in an approximate annual savings of more than $7,000 in maintenance costs. Although the upfront capital costs were slightly higher, the life-cycle costs for maintenance will recoup the additional investment many times over.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Teaching spaces, including a large-group instruction area on the third floor overlooking the entry plaza, incorporate natural light to enhance the learning environment and to reduce energy costs. The school also uses an air-cooled chiller system to generate ice using economical electrical power during off-peak evening hours and stores it in underground storage for cooling during daylight peak periods. The ice-storage facility is the fourth application of this energy-efficient HVAC system used by the district. Occupancy sensors control lights in unoccupied rooms, and recycled carpet was used throughout the building.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

The community, especially colleagues from neighboring districts, has been curious and impressed by the use of the ice to offset energy costs for cooling the building. Many tours have been conducted. Residents of the district appreciate that the building not only uses sustainable materials and energy-efficient systems, but also is designed flexibly for community use outside of regular school hours. The school's multipurpose gymnasium can be accessed through a dedicated lobby for use after school hours and also provides separate toilet facilities.

Tyler Junior College, Comprehensive Campus Master Plan — Tyler, Texas

Architect: Randall Scott Architects

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The TJC 2028 campus master plan calls for LEED certification as a minimum requirement for all future buildings constructed on campus.

What are some unique green aspects of the plan?

  • Densification of new buildings on campus results in more open/green space for student life to occur.

  • Master plan proposed vertical parking structures in low-lying areas on campus, resulting in more open/green space by reducing significant amounts of surface parking.

  • New buildings are planned around the open green space (quad), resulting from building and parking densification.

  • Densification of buildings and parking reduced surface stormwater runoff and flooding on campus and downstream of drainage infrastructure.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

Board members were supportive of the sustainable requirements included in the master plan.

Eastern Shore Community College, Business Development and Workforce Training Center — Melfa, Va.

Architect: Shriver and Holland Associates

What considerations were given to green products and processes?

In planning the center, the design team gave consideration to green products and processes, ranging from the building plan layout, to the materials selection, to the mechanical and electrical systems. The building siting coordinates with existing grades to minimize land disturbance. The linear building plan aligns along an east-west axis to take advantage of northern and southern natural daylight. Classroom and office windows are operable to provide natural ventilation and generous to take advantage of natural light; more than 90 percent have energy-efficient low-e glazing.

Green footnotes

  • Masonry products were obtained locally to minimize freight necessity.

  • The painted metal roof is easily recyclable.

Efficiency in mind

High efficiency, state-of-the-art mechanical systems/controls ensure health and comfort of occupants while maximizing energy savings. Interior fluorescent lighting with high-efficiency electronic ballasts, and lighting controls — a combination of occupancy sensing, countdown timing, multi-level zoned switching and wireless remote control — reduce energy consumption.

Peninsula College, Library and Administration Building — Port Angeles, Wash.

Architect: Schacht Aslani Architects

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Sustainable design strategies are intrinsic to the overall concept for the Peninsula College Library and Administration Building. Rainwater from the roofs and paved surfaces is diverted to rain gardens and bioswales on each side of the building. An under-floor air-distribution plenum provides a high level of indoor air quality and acoustic performance, while reducing the energy load of the building.

Green from the ground up

The mechanical system for the building is powered by a geothermal energy source that harvests free energy from the ground.

Engaging occupants

Operable windows in all of the building's perimeter spaces enable individual occupants to control access to fresh air, while providing enough natural light to reduce the need for electrical lighting.

Sweetwater Union High School, Administration, Theater and Library Complex — National City, Calif.

Architect: BCA Architects

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The largest LEED bond program for schools in California began with board adoption of a resolution toward 100 percent LEED-certified-gold designs for the redevelopment of the district's nine oldest schools, and a close working relationship with USGBC. The largest project, in review for LEED platinum, the Sweetwater campus dates from the 1920s and takes an integrated approach toward planning, design, construction and operations.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

Maximizing daylight was one of many sustainable features designed into the building. Heat gain from high ceilings and large windows is reduced by double-paned glazed glass, and sunscreens that include ground-floor sun canopies and upper-floor perforated metal sun shades. Improved indoor air quality is achieved by increasing natural ventilation and using CO2 sensors. Water usage is reduced through water-reducing bathroom fixtures and landscaping plants appropriate to the area. Community employment was supported and costs were kept on track by specifying concrete and concrete block material manufactured locally and using area workers who are skilled in concrete form-work.

What was the community response to the project being environmentally responsible?

The district has a website and outreach programs to explain the projects and green features to the community, including an 800 number to answer queries. Each emphasized to the community that green building saves energy by 30 percent, reduces carbon emissions by 35 percent, reduces water use by 30 to 50 percent, and reduces the cost of waste by 50 to 90 percent, helping people understand the emphasis on LEED gold certification. "The community, by a large percentage, said we are willing to tax ourselves because we want a continued and enhanced quality education for our children," says Jesus M. Gandara, superintendent.

Central York School District, Natatorium — York, Pa.

Architect: Schradergroup Architecture LLC

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

When planning this facility, consideration given to green products and processes focused primarily on those that would help achieve the district's goal of building a facility that maximized efficiency and cost-effectiveness from an operations and maintenance standpoint. Products and processes that contributed to energy, water and long-term maintenance savings were investigated and included. Also incorporated in the project were interior finishes offering durability, high recycled content and low VOCs.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The facility utilizes a ground-source heat pump for heating and cooling. Because of the inherent issues associated with the high humidity environment of a natatorium, special attention was given to indoor air quality. Waterfree urinals, along with a system that reclaims condensate from the natatorium HVAC units for reuse in the pool, greatly contributed to water savings. Careful consideration was given to low-emitting and sustainable material choices that would minimize maintenance while maximizing longevity. Incorporation of natural light and indirect lighting using high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures offers energy savings as well as a better quality light.

Community response

The community responded positively to the smart design approach, as it resulted in a highly efficient and cost-effective facility that would pass enormous savings to taxpayers. Because of the water-savings methods used, the local municipality did not require purchase of additional sewage capacity — notable for a high water-usage facility. Also, the ground-source heat pump offered an estimated 4.5-year payback on investment; however, because of unforeseen increases in energy costs, actual payback has been reduced to three years. Although environmental responsibility was embraced from the start, tangible benefits such as these tremendous savings drew overwhelming approval.

Hewitt-Trussville High School — Trussville, Ala.

Architect: Davis Architects

When planning this facility, what considerations were given to green products and processes?

The city of Trussville wanted to reflect the best of its community while respecting the ecology of the beautiful site along the banks of the Cahaba River, one of America's last and longest free-flowing rivers. The design of the building focused primarily on protecting the river and using the existing vegetation to stabilize the soils and provide natural shading. Much consideration was given to using green materials that were manufactured and harvested locally, and unique recycled materials were incorporated into the structure and finishes.

What are some unique green aspects of the facility?

The building is shaped around the adjacent Cahaba River to respect and celebrate the environment while also teaching the importance of preserving it. Playing fields on the other side — connected to the campus by a pedestrian bridge — take advantage of natural grasslands that were there long before a single stone was put in place. Special woodland parking areas preserve numerous special species of trees tagged by the architect for survival, and the surrounding undeveloped areas and existing vegetation allow for natural filtering of contaminants from the parking lot. High-quality metal roofing is part of a rainwater collection system that channels water into a pond to supply the school's irrigation system.

Community response

The city of Trussville immediately embraced the project and marveled at the use of natural light, views and native materials. The Cahaba River is practically in everyone's backyard, so people were appreciative of the efforts made to protect and celebrate it. The school has developed programs to use the river in the curriculum and to involve the community in restoration efforts. In recognition of this acute environmental sensitivity, the Cahaba River Society presented it with the Blue Green Design Award.

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