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Green Building Design
Gross Size of Project:
- Thermal Comfort Strategy
A continuous blanket of superior rigid insulation over the exterior of walls and roof prevents “cold spots” and thermal bridging that can be found with batt insulation placed between studs. Ozone-friendly sprayed Icynene insulation under floor fills and seals all possible crevices and areas to keep the thermal protection to a maximum, and the floor warmer for occupants. 16 feet per wide of awing vent windows allow passive cross-ventilation when moderate outdoor temperatures and seasons permit. Exterior sun-shades help control solar gain. Interior vestibules buffer the extreme winter cold or summer heat from entering directly into the classroom. Occupancy sensors and programmable thermostats help control and adjust the interior temperature for the hours when the building is actually occupied. The two stage heat pumps HVAC units provide CO2 controls to vary the input of fresh air according to demand based on occupancy.
- Indoor Air Quality Strategy
Key design principles help combat an ongoing indoor air problem in schools today: mold contamination. Unlike traditional modular classrooms, the building uses more cellulose-free materials such as steel and “DensGlass” sheathing that will not support the growth of mold. Insulation and vapor barrier applied over the exterior of walls and roof ensure condensation from thermal bridging is eliminated within the structural cavities where mold can grow and hide, by moving the dew point outside. The interior, formaldehyde-free MDF wall finish is raised up off the floor on a ¾” recycled plastic strip to prevent any possible wicking of water from the floor in the event of spills. Walk off mats reduce contaminants entering the classroom. All low to no VOC, formaldehyde-free coatings and adhesives, minimizing indoor air pollution from off-gassing. Mechanical and passive ventilation with Co2 sensors help ensure superior fresh air levels and quality standards for student and staff well-being.
- Daylighting Strategy
The SmartSpace classroom features 8 natural daylight sun tunnels, and electrical daylighting sensor controls – all in an integrated package that works together to manage lighting level needs and energy efficiency. The control system automatically dims electrical lighting when the sun tunnels are able to compensate with natural lighting. The area of window was designed to meet the LEED requirement for 75% of viewing by occupants. A light shelf helps bounce more natural light deeper into the room. Louvered sun shades outside control solar gain at different times of the day. The natural lighting from sun tunnels, plus the ample windows help improve both mood and performance. Research has shown that children in classrooms with lots of natural daylight have fewer absences and perform up to 26% better on standardized tests.
- Acoustic Strategy
The building has acoustical ceiling tile, carpeted floors and perforated acoustical ceiling deck to help control sound intrusion and reverberation. Increased insulation in the walls, floors and roof as well as insulated glazing, not only help with energy conservation and thermal comfort, but also help reduce noise infiltration from ambient outside sources. In particular however, the SmartSpace classroom features the “Quiet-Climate 2” Bard wall mounted heat pump system that has special sound reduction technology that, when installed with sound and vibration curbs and the acoustical plenum, can operate at sound levels as low as the mid 30’s. A vestibule at the entry also buffers the classroom space from any extreme exterior sounds.
- Energy Efficiency Strategy
Working from the inside, out, we took the idea of sustainability to heart and based the interior of the classroom on a 4’ x 8’ grid – the typical dimensions of many building and finish materials. We used materials in their entirety as much as possible, limiting the waste of materials and reducing the impact on landfill sites. Many of materials used in the construction of SmartSpace conform to the LEED NC Rating System for sustainable design, including 67% recycled-content steel, formaldehyde-free recycled MDF, recycled-content carpet tiles, TPO Energy Star reflective white roofing, bamboo chair rail, and FSC certified plywood subfloor.
- Architectural Excellence
Just as important to the design of a classroom is its appeal. A space that’s used daily should be both pleasing to look at and comfortable to be in—a space that one looks forward to using. What’s pleasing to the eye depends on who’s looking, but often lively colors and materials, and a sensitivity to design are key in making something attractive. The corrugated metal siding, aluminum panels, and simple, clean lines update the exterior with a more contemporary look suitable in both urban and rural contexts, and bright, customized accent colors add life and personality to both the exterior and interior.
- Economic Practicality
SmartSpace is loaded with energy and maintenance reducing features. This classroom is relocatable by design, but it must be noted that the features and materials are all consistent with what would be found in sustainable “conventional” construction. We built a classroom with the same quality and life expectancy as its conventionally designed counterpart, – with the speed of construction and flexibility of use that can only be found in modular. In a financial analysis, cost of “first time” construction must be balanced against the extended life SmartSpace offers through its quality design, the energy savings it produces, as well as the reduced life cycle cost of operation and maintenance School Districts receive. The study by The Hickory Consortium estimated the buildings 56% energy savings would result in over $2100.00 annual electrical savings at today’s rates in Lincoln, MA. SmartSpace is designed to be a practical, healthy, cost effective, interesting space for children to learn.
To summarize, an independent report prepared by The Hickory Consortium, Harvard, MA says, “The energy performance of the Green, SmartSpace Modular Classroom, is far better than would be expected for a similar building built to meet the Massachusetts Energy Code or the ASHRAE 91-2004 Standard. Due to better insulation, windows, daylighting, CO2 controlled energy recovery ventilation, and higher efficiency equipment, this building will save approximately 56% of the energy cost in comparison to the stricter ASHRAE 90.1 – 2004 standard.” And “Given the sterling performance of 56% energy savings, this building qualifies for all 10 LEED energy efficiency points.” “In summary, the Green Classroom has all the attributes of a well integrated design, which considers materials, energy, and the environment… and promises to produce remarkable energy, health, and environmental performance.” Other design features such as TPO reflective roofing, sunshades and canopies all help reduce energy use.