Top Projects: Green: American Canyon High School

LEED project a model of sustainability, education and community

Project: American Canyon High School

Address: Newell Drive and American Canyon Road, American Canyon

Description: Ultra-sustainable high school in American Canyon

Completion: Summer 2010

Architect: Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, Santa Rosa

General contractor: Lathrop Construction, Benicia

Mechanical engineering: Costa Engineers, Santa Rosa

Civil engineering: Chaudhary & Associates, Napa

Structural engineering: ZFA Structural Engineers, Santa Rosa

Electrical engineering: O’Mahony & Myer, Santa Rosa

Project cost: $121 million

[caption id="attachment_27981" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Aerial view of the school stadium (click to enlarge)"][/caption]

AMERICAN CANYON -- American Canyon High School opened its doors in the fall of 2010 to welcome students to an energy-efficient campus unlike anything seen in the area.

The $121 million project is the largest public building complex in American Canyon and was designed with the students and their education as well as the community in mind.

The building, designed by Quattrocchi Kwok Architects in Santa Rosa, has a one-megawatt photovoltaic station to provide about 85 percent of the electricity on the campus.

“The school will be saving about $300,000 per year,” said Aaron Jobson, project architect on the school.

Barbara Nemko, superintendent of the Napa County Office of Education, said she is most excited about the school bringing the community together.

“I know that the members of the community need this face of American Canyon,” she said.

The school is the first school in California built under the Collaborative for High Performance Schools program, the United States’ first green building rating program for K-12 schools.

[caption id="attachment_27982" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Rendering of the completed school (click to enlarge)"][/caption]

It was built by Lathrop Construction, headquartered in Benicia.

The school consists of seven two-story buildings for administration offices, library, theater, multi-use rooms, classrooms, a split-level gym, locker rooms, student store, aquatic center with swimming pool, two storage buildings, football/soccer stadium complex, two concession stands, two baseball fields, two softball fields, two soccer fields and outdoor tennis and basketball courts.

There is day lighting in every classroom, which not only saves energy but promotes a better living environment, said Mr. Jobson.

“There are automatic lighting controls, so as soon as there is enough light from the outside, the lights will turn off,” he said.

The gym has day lights as does the multipurpose room. The school also has a ground source heat pump.

There are a number of water-saving features including low-flow fixtures, dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals. And all fields are irrigated with reclaimed water.

[caption id="attachment_27983" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Students, staff and community members gathered in front of the school for the ribbon-cutting. (click to enlarge)"][/caption]

“It will use about half the potable water of a typical high school,” said Mr. Jobson.

There will be 200 bike rack spaces-bicycle parking for 10 percent of students.

“The construction of American Canyon High School brings the latest technologies and green operating features together at one site. Incorporating green efforts into the learning environment of a high school rich with technological amenities from which students will participate and witness our changing world is a very positive educational experience,” said Don Evans of the Napa Valley Unified School District planning and construction department.

Mr. Jobson said that in addition to the sustainable features, he is proud of the public parts of the project.

The theater on campus was going to seat 250, but the city came in and partially funded it, and now it will seat 400.

“And the gym, aquatic center, stadium and field will all be accessible to the community,” he said.

That was part of the design of the school. The athletic fields are in the front of the site to give them a public presence and to make them easily accessible.

The high school employs a pathways-to-career-driven education.

“We want our students understanding why they are learning things,”said Ms. Nemko. “If a student wants to be an engineer, they need to understand geometry or the building will fall down. There will be none of this, ‘Why do I need to know that?’ going on.”

There are four buildings on campus for the four pathways programs, and they face a central courtyard to create a sense of community.

“We wanted the environment to reflect that,” Mr. Jobson said. “The design was inspired by the vision of the school.”

The project is expecting to get a rating that is LEED Gold equivalent.

Mr. Jobson said having so many green features was difficult financially.

“It was a challenge getting all those features in the budget,” he said.

The PV system was made more affordable by a financing program created by the National Development Council and the Gasser Foundation.

Nonprofits can’t make use of the 30 percent federal tax credit, so an investor came in and paid for 30 percent of the PV system and claimed the tax credit. The system cost the school around $5 million.

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