Creativity Brings Out Campus-Wide Approaches to Save Energy and Water
What would you come up with if the sky was the limit when updating a facility to save energy and water? That was the question the Division of the State Architect asked seven architectural firms looking at seven prototypical schools around the state.
The conceptual designs were unveiled this week in Sacramento. The message to attendees was that schools could implement many features that could help improve students’ learning environments.
The initiative, dubbed 7x7x7: Design, Energy, Water, was to start a conversation to reimagine how schools can be renovated to both enhance the learning environment and eventually meet zero net energy and carbon neutral goals for future California students.
The schools represented typical campuses constructed in different eras. Facilities ranged from urban to suburban and elementary to community college campuses. Many designs employed natural light by upgrading or enlarging windows and adding skylights. Other unique features were water harvesting, renewable energy generation, grey water systems, and changes to campus systems and façades.
As a partner, the California Energy Commission completed the energy assessments for each campus. Architects used the baseline energy use data as a starting point to measure projected reduced energy and water use.
The 7x7x7: Design, Energy, Water initiative was an exercise in creativity, but schools do have access to money to save energy. Through the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, also known as Proposition 39, schools can apply for state funding for building-performance improvements. The money can be used to update systems and help improve the learning environment on school campuses.