Joining the ranks of more than 1,250 service projects in 49 different countries, LPA proudly participated in the very first Green Apple Day of Service on Sept. 29, 2012—an initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools—showcasing the recent completion of a pro bono “greenovation” at the Davis Magnet School in Costa Mesa, Calif.
More than just a sustainable retrofit, LPA upgraded a classroom from the K-6 campus, Room Seven, with insulation; an energy-efficient displacement ventilation system; recycled and low-VOC carpet, paint and tiles; a lighting dimming system, and Solatubes, which pipe in natural daylight through a sophisticated tubing and fixture system.
Meanwhile, the neighboring classroom, Room Eight, was left alone as a control room so that key data such as energy consumption, room temperature, carbon dioxide levels and relative humidity can be tracked and compared. In addition, the study will quantify and measure the benefits of sunlight and students’ overall happiness. Essentially, the project’s goal is to document and demonstrate the financial, operational and environmental benefits of green classroom design.
“It’s all very scientific,” explained LPA’s Wendy Rogers, who heads up USGBC’s Green Schools Committee in Orange County. “The conventional classroom has controls that have been in place since December to establish a baseline of energy use, pre-renovation, so we have the facts and figures of where we started and can see, with numbers, how much the greenovation improves performance.”
Thanks to generous donations in the form of grants and building materials, LPA partnered with the Walt Disney Co., McCarthy Building Cos., Sunbelt Controls and a slew of other companies with USGBC Orange County, to fully cover the renovation costs, estimated to be between $130,000 and $175,000. With design kicking off last November and construction commencing in July, the full renovation was delivered just in time for the Green Apple Day of Service in late September.
Enthusiastic about their new green classroom, “the kids are just blown away that what looks like a light fixture is actually daylight,” observed Steve Key, co-chair of USGBC’s Orange County Chapter, during a school open house held on the Green Apple Day of Service where teachers, parents, students and community members gathered for guided tours, green apples and lemonade.
“They love the Solatubes,” confirmed Davis Fourth Grade Teacher Kelly Lopez. “When I open and close them, they love to watch because it looks like kaleidoscope. Also, when I dim the lights, a hush goes over the room. They think it’s cool.”
While not as visible, the displacement ventilation system efficiently and quietly distributes air throughout the room at ground level creating a more comfortable and healthy environment for the children. As a math, science and technology school, Davis teachers plan to design curriculum units around the data collection process to boost the students’ hands-on experience with sustainable design. Overall, the greenovation project blends in well with Green Apple’s global movement which seeks to create and support schools with clean, healthy air, and facilities where energy and resources are conserved.
“The economic environment that our public schools operate in is challenging,” noted Rogers. “I also know that with 55 million Americans spending six hours a day in school facilities, we must do a better job of creating positive educational environments. Outdated buildings, with little access to daylight, outdated fixtures and poor ventilation, do little to prepare today’s learners for the future.”
With all the attention and publicity centered around the Davis project and the Green Apple Day of Service, Rogers hopes this will shine a spotlight on the value of environmentally friendly classrooms in Orange county where currently only eight schools in 38 public school districts can be considered green.
Images courtesy: Kellie Moore of LPA Inc. Miss Lopez’s Fourth Grade Class: Alexis Amaro, Emma Arrosagaray, Dylan Bartell, Heyward Bradford, Jonathan Chavez-Velazquez, Gracie Costlow, Taylor Demarais, Katherine Eimers, Zachary Fletcher, Edwin Gaites, Erin Galvin, Angelica Garcia, Chad Gordon, Nathaniel Han, Tsubasa Harada, Brayden Harlow, Keilan Hooper, Jake Kondo, Jazmin Lopez, Brycen MacBeth, Noah Martin, Ryan McIntyre, Frida Molina, Faith Nguyen, Ethan Rasmussen, Joshua Sarte, Emily Scherl, Brooklyn Soto, Cooper Steck, Taylor Talbott-Clark, Kendra Tulecki, Nicole Vitiello, and Jackson Wrubel. Top right: Wendy Rogers and Davis Magnet School Principal Dr. Kevin Rafferty.