The da Vinci Arts Middle School in Portland Oregon has the first and only LEED-platinum and net zero energy use classroom in America. LEED-plantinum is the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating for energy efficiency. A zero energy building (ZEB) or net zero energy building is a general term applied to buildings with zero net energy consumption and zero annual carbon emissions.
The 1,500-square foot music classroom and studio was constructed from plans developed by architecture firm SRG Partnership and the University of Oregon’s Energy Studies in Buildings Lab. The school’s features include a passive temperature control system and solar roof tiles. These and other green features yield an efficiency improvement of 70 percent over Oregon building code requirements.
Gutters capture rain for landscape irrigation and use as greywater inside the building. The school’s experimental natural lighting system called “the Halo” provides adequate light, even with overcast skies, making additional light sources entirely unnecessary during the day. The sun’s rays pass through a diffuser which spreads the light evenly throughout the room. After dark, by amplifying and dispersing small amounts of electric light, the diffuser requires only half the energy normally required by traditional classroom lighting.
The da Vinci school teaches sustainability by example and it seems to be infectious. Even in their extra-curricular activities, students at the school show their loyalty to green. A project by da Vinci’s after school class, Community Evolution / Garden Revolution, built a greenhouse for the residents of Dignity Village. See their blog for details.
The da Vinci addition is only the beginning, every public school building in Portland will be subject to rebuilding or remodeling over the next 20 years. An assessment of the performance of the various green featurs of the da Vinici school will help determine which sustainable features will be integrated into future classrooms.
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