Shedding light on green school design

School districts across the United States continue to renovate and replace educational facilities to improve energy efficiency.



School districts across the United States continue to renovate

and replace educational facilities to improve energy efficiency. According The New York Times , The U.S.

Department of Education will award states $48.6 billion under the Stimulus Bill's

fiscal stabilization fund to fill budget gaps in public schools and

universities. New school construction, renovation, and repair projects all

qualify for the money; as long it is applied to green buildings. Schools not

using heat/air-conditioning systems, electric lighting fixtures, or lights at

all are becoming more common solutions to problems with energy use in schools.

A prototype green classroom addition under construction at

the Da Vinci Arts Middle School, Portland, Ore., includes natural daylighting, passive heating and

cooling systems, solar roof tiles, and other green features that yield a 70%

efficiency improvement over Oregon

building code requirements.

The firm SRG Partnership worked with the University of Oregon's

Energy Studies in Buildings Lab to design the school's 1,500-sq ft music

classroom and studio in order to achieve a LEED-platinum rating and net-zero

energy use. An innovative feature of the school's new design is the

experimental natural lighting system called "the halo". The design provides

enough light that it eliminates the need to flip on a light switch during the

school day. The system channels the sun's rays through a skylight and into a

diffuser on the classroom ceiling at the right angles to spread natural light

evenly throughout the room. At night and times of decreased sunlight, the

lights are on, but mounted inside the diffuser so that the light is amplified

and dispersed, which uses only 0.4 W/sq ft.

 The Da Vinci addition is the second building to test the

diffuser designed by the lab - one of five Pacific Northwest labs in the

Betterbricks Integrated Design Lab Network, which is researching how to improve

energy efficiency in schools, hospitals and office buildings.

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