Search:      Site      Web        
powered by
'Green' classroom at Davis Magnet School begins sprouting data

A fourth grade classroom at Davis Magnet School recently renovated with "green" technology is beginning to teach architects how sustainable design in schools can save money.

The classroom was outfitted with new light fixtures, paint, a ventilation system and sensors this summer by the Orange County chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, which arbitrates LEED certification for green buildings. Since December, when sensors were placed in another classroom, the group has been able to see how much better the renovated room does.

"One thing that's really, really lacking is actual, physical, counted data. That's why we're doing this," USGBC's executive director in O.C. Lindsey Engels said.

She added that taxpayers are getting more curious about how much can be saved in schools' energy bills with better-quality air to boot.

Davis students can control the amount of light that enters the classroom with new window controls, one variable in a system that also uses efficient ventilation to boost fresh air flow.

At the end of this school year or next, Engels said the group will synthesize the data from the experiment into policy papers. They'll be especially eager to if there's promising payoff on the $175,000 investment on remodeling.

"The teacher's looking for opportunities to apply these statistics and give them real, hands-on learning experiences," said Davis principal Christy Flores, who pointed out students think it's "pretty cool" to be in such a new and different-looking classroom.

Besides retrofitting old facilities, it's important to simply quantify the benefits of modern advancements in school design, Engels said.

"There's a lot of schools from the 1950s where you keep the door shut half a day and then open it and it smells really stale" due to old building materials off-gassing throughout the day, she said.

One area she said she was watching closely was the level of carbon dioxide in the room. While safe – it's where soda carbonation comes from – the gas can cause drowsiness in higher concentrations. Other benefits being touted include fewer allergens and sick days due to better air quality.

Flores said that, as of yet, the room hasn't impacted student learning, and didn't point to any major hiccups in the process.

"I think this is a great opportunity to look at and study how we can cont to improve our school building," she said. "With any new project it's a learning process but overall it's been very smooth."

New equipment, designs, money and labor were donated by 51 local businesses, including architectural firm LPA, contractors from McCarthy Building Companies, and a grant from Disney.

Modern schools are often being built eco-consciously, according to Tammy Schaeffer of Pasadena school architect firm Carmichael Kemp. But Engels said the average new school is "a little bit green, in my personal opinion, but there's a lot more where they can go."

 Employers - Looking to hire?
Upcoming Career Events