A School with Daylight
Lighting the Way
Most of the school's projected energy savings — and expected superior quality of light — are attributed to daylight and energy-efficient electric lighting with dimming controls replacing conventional lighting.
The daylighting design in the classrooms consists of exterior sun shades — to minimize the summer sun's direct solar gain while admitting the winter sunlight — and lightshelves and angled ceilings to reflect light deep into the room.
Glazing on the interior walls between classrooms further allows south light to penetrate into the north-side rooms. These effects were studied during design using light sensors inside half-inch (1:24) scale models.
For times when daylight is insufficient, there is high-efficiency, direct/indirect fluorescent lighting with multi-level controls.
A smaller percentage of the energy savings results from a variety of heating and cooling strategies such as increased wall and roof insulation, high-efficiency heat pumps, and natural ventilation.
The 42,000-square-foot (3800-square-meter) school sits on a 10-acre (4-hectare) site overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The building was situated to take advantage of the constant ocean breezes. The courtyard configuration gives every room the benefit of cross ventilation and provides students with opportunities to experience learning in an outdoor setting.
The design called for exhaust ducts located in the roof to pull air through operable windows into the classroom. At the same time, they collect and expel the trapped, heated air.
The project incorporated results of computer modeling including the U.S. Department of Energy's DOE-2 energy simulation program to determine the effect of various energy efficiency measures. The program calculates hour-by-hour energy consumption for a year using local weather data. Natural ventilation airflow was modeled with computational fluid dynamics visualizations.
Energy reductions from heating and cooling measures were smaller than that for lighting because of Southern California's mild coastal climate. The classrooms' significant internal heat gains reduce the amount of heating required during the winter. In addition, the hottest months were omitted from the analysis because the school is not expected to be a occupied during the summer.
The project was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a solar collector system to meet a portion of the domestic hot water needed for the school. The architects also maximized use of recycled and energy-efficient materials and components in the project. They selected drought-resistant plants for landscaping.
A Story of Collaboration
Perkins & Will designers worked closely from the outset with consulting architects and engineers in Southern California Edison's (SCE) Design and Engineering Services division, headed by Gregg Ander, SCE's chief architect.
The project design team conducted detailed ventilation and lighting studies in order to integrate a design approach for all building systems to optimize energy usage and improve the overall environmental performance of the school.
"Schools represent an important customer segment for us," says Ander. "Due to recent statewide initiatives, schools are undergoing substantial construction and renovation to provide smaller class sizes. This is an opportunity for us to advocate energy efficiency strategies that will help these schools lower their energy use and increase the level of student performance."
An Eye on the Meter
Whether the school actually meets performance predictions will be of concern to Gaylaird Christopher, AIA, principal and national leader of Perkins & Will's K-12 education practice.
He notes: "We'll be monitoring the energy savings closely on this showcase project — alongside our SCE consultants — to determine the accuracy of the computer modeling, the extent of energy savings, and the overall impact on increases in student performance in the learning environment once classes begin at the school."
"Once we have our final 'fine tuning' comparisons," Christopher continues, "we'll be able to incorporate these energy efficiency tactics in school projects literally across the country and around the world."
The built-in energy-efficient features will also be used as a teaching tool in the school curriculum, showing students how an environmentally friendly building contributes to saving the earth's resources and reduces pollution.
"We believe school projects are a great way to teach students about energy efficiency," Christopher says. "They can observe first-hand the operation of the various building components and use them for 'real world' research purposes."
Perkins & Will was named "Architectural Firm of the Year" in 1999 by the American Institute of Architects. Founded in 1935, the 500-person firm has offices in Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Minneapolis, Pasadena, Santa Monica, New York, and Paris. It is a leading design firm for projects in health care, science and technology, K-12 education, higher education, and interior design.