California Often Establishes Environmental Policies that later are adopted by other states or the federal government. The state’s purchasing guidelines forced important changes in product formulations to comply with IAQ or recycled-content mandates. California’s leadership in the green-schools movement is equally trend setting. With an innovative and far-reaching call to build zero-energy schools that use little to no energy by 2010, California is bringing fundamental change to the often static school market. Several educational institutions, including public school districts, private schools and libraries, are not waiting for government policies to dictate school construction. They are moving quickly to build and operate facilities that save energy and benefit the next generation of learners.

LPA Inc.

GREEN BY NUMBERS With roughly 9,800 public elementary and secondary schools in the state serving 2.6 million students, California boasts more public schools than any other state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, D.C. There are an additional 3,500 private elementary and secondary schools serving roughly 585,000 students, according to the California Department of Education, Sacramento. With so many children to serve, it’s understandable that California focuses financial and policy attention on greening schools.

A container sprayed with a pheromone attracts bees so they can be moved away from students.
Los Angeles Unified School District A container sprayed with a pheromone attracts bees so they can be moved away from students.

One of the first green-building rating programs designed specifically for K-12 schools started in California. The San Francisco-based Collaborative for High Performance Schools, or CHPS, facilitates the design, construction and operation of high-performance schools, which are defined as environments that are not only energy and resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities for a quality education. (To read an interview with Charles Eley, CHPS’ executive director, see “perspectives,” September/October 2005 issue, page 66.) As of July 2008, there were 24 completed CHPS-rated school projects in California with another 39 in progress. Twenty-seven school districts across California have formally adopted CHPS guidelines as policy.

LPA Inc.

The U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, also is making a concerted effort to improve the environmental performance of U.S. schools. As of June 2008, there were three completed LEED-certified school projects in California, including Chartwell School, Seaside, which boasts a LEED Platinum rating (see “Chartwell School Scores High,” page 34). There also are another 70 registered LEED school projects in California, which is the most for any state. “By the nature of their use, schools provide tremendous opportunities to reduce energy costs and incorporate environmentally responsible building elements,” says Scott Shell, principal with EHDD, an architectural firm based in San Francisco.

Head-Royce School, Oakland, Calif., recently installed a 72-kilowatt solar array that will offset the school’s annual electricity costs by about 35 percent.
Borrego Solar Systems Head-Royce School, Oakland, Calif., recently installed a 72-kilowatt solar array that will offset the school’s annual electricity costs by about 35 percent.
“Schools are typically 1 to 2 stories and operate during the day, which enables enhanced daylighting and reduced lighting loads.” Despite great strides in energy efficiency and IAQ, a LEED-certified or CHPS school isn’t necessarily zero energy, which is the long-term vision for California schools. ZERO-ENERGY SCHOOLS Imagine having an additional $210 million per year in your state’s education budget. According to the Sacramento-based California Office of Public School Construction, that’s enough to hire 2,100 teachers, purchase 3.5 million textbooks or buy 210,000 computers. An innovative plan to make schools energy independent may free up that much funding for California schools. In December 2007, State Architect David Thorman called for all new schools in California to be zero energy by 2010. According to Thorman, zero energy is when a building generates enough energy on-site or, in a school’s case, within a district to meet its energy needs.
Borrego Solar Systems

Understandably, during peak energy-use times, schools may be pulling energy from the grid, but they would give energy back during non-peak time. According to a white paper published by Thorman and released at the 2007 Green California Schools Summit, which was held in Pasadena, the state is spending $5 billion annually building and renovating approximately 15 million square feet (1.4 million m²) of K-12 schools. With average energy costs running $1.43 per square foot per year, a zero-energy environment using clean, locally generated energy could save $21.5 million per year and as much as 30,000 tons (27216 metric tons) of carbon-dioxide emissions each year.

Borrego Solar Systems

The state plays an important role in facilitating the construction of green schools through funding. It boasts $100 million in High Performance Incentive Grants to promote designs and materials that, among other notable goals, save energy and water, maximize the use of natural lighting and improve IAQ. In June 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger awarded $1.9 million to three schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, or LAUSD, to incorporate cool roofs, high-efficiency water fixtures and enhanced daylighting.

In addition to a 7,000-square-foot (650-m2 ) vegetated roof, Redding Library features a rooftop PV array that is connected to a monitoring system, so students and others can see how much energy the array is generating
LPA Inc. In addition to a 7,000-square-foot (650-m2 ) vegetated roof, Redding Library features a rooftop PV array that is connected to a monitoring system, so students and others can see how much energy the array is generating


“The path to greening our educational system rests in giving school superintendents, facility managers and others the tools necessary to make cost-effective improvements to existing facilities,” says Rachel Gutter, USGBC’s schools sector manager. Later this year, USGBC will release its Green Ex² toolkit to help school districts green their operations. USGBC will select 10 school districts to participate in a pilot program to receive free training and one-on-one assistance. Upon completion of the pilot phase, USGBC will train additional instructors who then will deliver in-person training to interested schools and districts around the country. This initiative follows last year’s announcement by USGBC to establish the National Green Schools Advocacy Program to help school boards recognize the financial and environmental benefits of green building. In California, there are seven trained advocates who work to mobilize coalitions of parents, school-board members, teachers, facilities managers and others to campaign on behalf of green schools.

Michael David Rose Photography


With a long-term facilities modernization and repair program budget of $7.7 billion, LAUSD, which encompasses 1,190 schools and centers, is well positioned to incorporate green-building elements into its projects. LAUSD has opened two showcase high-performance CHPS schools, including Maywood Academy, a 1,200-student, 45-classroom high school, and Charles H. Kim Elementary, an 800-student, 32-classroom elementary school. In June, the district broke ground on Central Region High School No. 13, which aims to be one of the district’s greenest schools with innovative water-management and energyefficiency systems. In addition, the district has applied CHPS criteria to the planning and design of 42 new schools and 15 existing schools.

Chartwell School, Seaside, Calif., is a stellar example of California's sustainability initiatives in schools. The school features a 32-kilowatt photovoltaic array to generate all its electricity and an 8,700-gallon (32933-L) rainwater cistern that helps reduce water usage by 60 percent.
Michael David Rose Photography Chartwell School, Seaside, Calif., is a stellar example of California's sustainability initiatives in schools. The school features a 32-kilowatt photovoltaic array to generate all its electricity and an 8,700-gallon (32933-L) rainwater cistern that helps reduce water usage by 60 percent.

LAUSD also recently won an award from the state of California for its Integrated Pest Management program. The program stresses prevention—better sanitation, inspections and beneficial insects—to head off pest problems that, left untreated, could require chemical treatment. The Milpitas Unified School District located in the San Francisco Bay area is an example of a school partnering with industry to achieve its energy objectives. The district, in a power-purchase agreement with Chevron Energy Solutions, San Francisco, and Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C., will construct solar installations across 14 school sites in the form of freestanding shade and parking structures. In total, the project will generate 3.4 megawatts of energy. Solar power is expected to provide 75 percent of district electricity needs during the school year and 100 percent during the summer. This is believed to be the highest percentage of solar power used by any K-12 school district in the country.

It also incorporates Design for Deconstruction principles from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.
Michael David Rose Photography It also incorporates Design for Deconstruction principles from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

California ’s private schools are unable to access some of the schoolconstruction- funding mechanisms available to public schools. Although some private schools are fortunate to command high tuitions from financially well-off student populations, most are forced to conduct extensive fundraising campaigns, seek grant monies and borrow through traditional financial institutions. Another financing option that is increasingly popular with private schools is to borrow against endowments. With greater flexibility in how to allocate expenses, private schools recognize that tapping endowments to pay upfront capital costs for solar-power systems or other green-building improvements is a smart business decision. Endowments can be replenished with interest because of reduced energy costs. Some schools also are able to incorporate construction improvements into green educational curricula, such as renewable-energy principles based on the school’s photovoltaic system. Oakland, Calif.-based Head-Royce School is an 800-student K-12 private school. In 2006, the school began a community-wide initiative to help develop Head-Royce School as a model green school, according to Dennis Malone, the school’s director of finance and operations. Head-Royce formed a Green Council to demonstrate how to establish a more sustainable way of operating, focusing on four broad areas: sustainable resources, nutritional food, an ecological curriculum and a healthy environment. One of the major initiatives the council and school recently completed was the installation of a 72-kilowatt solar array. The system will produce enough power to offset the school's annual electricity costs by about 35 percent. In addition, the array installer developed a solar curriculum tailored for primary, intermediate and secondary schools and makes it available to clients.

LPA Inc.

GREEN LIBRARIES As an important partner in educating children, public libraries also are adopting green-building practices to provide a healthy learning environment. The 4.5-acre (1.8-hectare) Redding Library, Redding, Calif., incorporates energy-conservation strategies and technologies into the building. The local utility wanted to make the library a demonstration building to educate the public about ways to save energy. It subsidized the installation of an ice-harvesting system and a PV array on the roof. The ice-harvesting system takes advantage of lower electricity costs to make ice during off-peak night hours. The ice then is used during the day as part of the air-conditioning system. Educational graphics, signage and monitoring equipment installed in the lobby show the public how much energy is being saved by these systems in real time. In addition, the design team from LPA Inc., Irvine, Calif., specified a 7,000-square-foot (650-m²) vegetated roof visible from the main reading room on the second floor. The 41,000-square-foot (3809-m²) Castro Valley Library, a project of Alameda County General Services Agency, Oakland, Calif., broke ground in April 2008. With space for a collection 50 percent larger than the previous library, five times as many computers and a multipurpose education center, the library will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. By Alameda County ordinance, the project is designed to achieve a LEED Silver rating or higher.

Michael David Rose Photography

A GOOD EXAMPLE With the identified financial and environmental benefits, greening our nation’s 126,000 schools makes sense. California is developing innovative policies and programs that help reduce the administrative disconnect between capital funds and operating budgets. Innovative educational facilities across California help demonstrate that when it comes to our children, thinking creatively is the right answer. JEFF STEPHENS is principal of Oakland, Calif.- based Planet Relations, a public-relations consultancy for Earth-minded businesses. He can be reached at jeff@planetrelations.com or (510) 663-4462.

Chartwell School Scores High

Located on the former Fort Ord military base in Seaside, Calif., Chartwell School is on a 29-acre (12-hectare) knoll surrounded by native oaks. The picturesque setting provides a unique environment to educate 125 students in grades 2 through 8 with language-related visual and auditory learning challenges, such as dyslexia. In November 2007, the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council certified the school as LEED Platinum. The design team, made up of EHDD Architecture, San Francisco, and general contractor, Ausonio Inc., Castroville, Calif., focused on energy use, lighting, water and material use when designing and constructing the school. The total project cost was $9.76 million, or $310.02 per square foot.

According to the California Office of Public School Construction, Sacramento, the average cost of California schools is $350 per square foot. By factoring in the net present value of decreased future operating costs, about $53 per square foot, the net construction cost per square foot is $257.02. Chartwell School is a zero-energy school with a 32-kilowatt photovoltaic system producing all the electricity it uses during the course of a year. Because of daylighting and controls, energy use was reduced by about 50 percent, making the cost of the PV system a reasonable investment with a 10-year payback. Watersaving features, including waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets and an 8,700-gallon (32933-L) rainwater cistern, reduce water use by 60 percent. In partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, the buildings incorporated Design for Deconstruction elements, creating flexibility and material reuse possibilities for the future.



GREEN CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS, Sacramento, www.green.ca.gov/InfoSchools.htm

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, Design for Deconstruction, Washington, D.C., www.epa.gov/epaoswer /osw/conserve/2006news/08-chart.htm

U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL, Build Green Schools, Washington, www.buildgreenschools.org


CHARTWELL SCHOOL, SEASIDE, CALIF. ROOF UNDERLAYMENT / Ice and Water Shield from Grace Construction Products, Cambridge, Mass., www.graceconstruction.com

PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEM / United Solar Ovonic, Auburn Hills, Mich., www.uni-solar.com FIBER-GLASS BUILDING INSULATION / Owens Corning, Toledo, Ohio, www.owenscorning.com

FIVE-PLY BUILT-UP ASPHALT ROOF SYSTEM / GAF Materials Corp., Wayne, N.J., www.gaf.com METAL PANEL SYSTEMS / Metecno-Morin, Fontana, Calif., www.morincorp.com

COATING / Duranar SPF from PPG Industries, Pittsburgh, www.ppg.com ALUMINUM CURTAINWALL AND STOREFRONT / United States Aluminum, Waxahachie, Texas, www.usalum.com

SKYLIGHT / Cool Optics from Sunoptics Prismatic Skylights, Sacramento, Calif., www.sunoptics.com, and O’Keeffe’s Glass Skylight, San Francisco, www.okeeffes.com

GLAZING / Oldcastle Glass, Atlanta, www.oldcastleglass.com WINDOW SEALANTS / Dow Corning, Midland, Mich., www.dowcorning.com

PLUMBING / Kohler, Kohler, Wis., www.kohler.com; Caroma USA, Hillsboro, Ore., www.caromausa.com; Chicago Brass, Highwood, Ill., www.chicagobrass.com; Zurn, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, www.zurn.com; Symmons, Braintree, Mass., www.symmons.com; A.O. Smith Corp., Milwaukee, www.aosmith.com; and Tyco International-Raychem, Princeton, N.J., www.tyco.com

TOILET COMPARTMENTS / Santana Products from Scranton Products, Moosic, Pa., www.scrantonproducts.com

TOILET ACCESSORIES / Bobrick, North Hollywood, Calif., www.bobrick.com

HAND DRYER / Xlerator from Excel Dryer, East Longmeadow, Mass., www.exceldryer.com

LIGHTING / LIGHTOLIER, Fall River, Mass., www.lightolier.com; Lithonia Lighting, Conyers, Ga., www.lithonia.com; Architectural Area Lighting, La Mirada, Calif., www.aal.net; and LSI Industries, Cincinnati, www.lsi-industries.com

ACOUSTICAL CEILING PLANKS / Tectum Inc., Newark, Ohio, www.tectum.com

RECLAIMED FINISH LUMBER AND OLD-GROWTH REDWOOD / TerraMai, Mt. Shasta, Calif., www.terramai.com RECLAIMED LUMBER / Pacific Heritage Wood Supply Co., El Granada, Calif., www.phwood.com

WOOD FOR CABINETS / Columbia Forest Products, Portland, Ore., www.columbiaforestproducts.com

TILE / Dal-Tile Corp., Dallas, www.daltile.com

BAMBOO FLOORING / Smith and Fong Plyboo, San Francisco, www.plyboo.com

LINOLEUM / Marmoleum from Forbo, Hazleton, Pa., www.forboflooringna.com

CARPET / Shaw Industries, Dalton, Ga., www.shawfloors.com

PAINT / ICI Paints, Strongsville, Ohio, www.icipaints. com, and Frazee Paints, San Diego, frazee.com

DISPLAY BOARD / PolyVision, Suwanee, Ga., www.polyvision.com

PLAYGROUND SURFACING / Tot Turf Playground Safety Surfacing from David F. O’Keefe Co., Lafayette, Calif., (925) 283-4404

BIKE RACKS / CycLoops from Columbia Cascade, Portland, www.timberform.com

HEAD-ROYCE SCHOOL, OAKLAND, CALIF. SOLAR ARRAY / Borrego Solar Systems, Berkeley, Calif., www.borregosolar.com

REDDING LIBRARY, REDDING, CALIF. ROOF INSULATION / 4-inch- (102-mm-) thick polyisocyanurate from Carlisle SynTec Inc., Carlisle, Pa., www.carlisle-syntec.com

ROOF MEMBRANE / Sureweld Extra cool roof from Carlisle SynTec

VEGETATED ROOF / Roofscapes Inc., Philadelphia, www.roofmeadow.com

PHOTOVOLTAICS / Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Cypress, Calif., www.mitsubishielectric.com

SITE WALLS / Shot Blast concrete block from Basalite, Dixon, Calif., www.basalite.com

ICE-STORAGE SYSTEM / CALMAC Ice Bank, Fairlawn, N.J., www.calmac.com

CURTAINWALL, SKYLIGHTS AND SUNSHADES / Kawneer, Norcross, Ga., www.kawneer.com

INDIRECT LIGHT FIXTURES / Focal Point Lights, Chicago, www.focalpointlights.com

LIGHTING CONTROLS / PCI Lighting Control, Peachtree City, Ga., greengate.coopercontrol.com

WALL COVERING / Walltalkers, Fairlawn, Ohio, www.walltalkers.com

CEILING TILES / Cortega Square from Armstrong, Lancaster, Pa., www.armstrong.com

CARPET / Mohawk, Calhoun, Ga., www.mohawk-flooring.com, and Tandus, Dalton, Ga., www.tandus.com

WALK-OFF MATS / Flextuft rubber tile made from recycled tires with 90 percent post-consumer content from Flexco Corp., Tuscumbia, Ala., www.flexcofloors.com

VINYL COMPOSITION TILE / Armstrong STAINED CONCRETE / Scofield, Los Angeles, www.scofield.com

TILE / Dal-Tile Corp., Dallas, www.daltile.com

PANELS AND SURFACES / 3form, Salt Lake City, www.3-form.com, and Avonite, Florence, Ky., www.avonitesurfaces.com

FURNITURE / Brodart, McElhattan, Pa., www.brodart. com; MJ Industries, Georgetown, Mass., www.mjshelving.com; and HON Co., Muscatine, Iowa, www.hon.com