A cool roof, such as the one planned for
American Canyon High School, is one that reflects the sun's heat and emits
absorbed radiation back into the atmosphere.
American Canyon High School. Courtesy
Quattrocchi Kwok Architects
A Green Dream for Napa Valley School
by Susy Jones
Rather than construct a conventional new high school to meet the needs of
its growing population, the Napa Valley Unified School District opted to
build "green" with the help of the Collaborative for High Performance
and a team of architects and engineers. American Canyon High School, which
will open in August of 2010, is a pioneer in the growing movement to fund
and build healthy high performance schools.
"It started five and a half years ago when we first envisioned a new high
school," explained Don Evans, director of school construction and planning
for Napa Valley. "We put together a community-based group including
students, parents and teachers. They all kept coming back to this idea of
sustainable green construction. The kids in particular were behind it."
American Canyon High School will be the first project to be recognized
CHPS Verified program. CHPS
Verified provides assistance to districts to ensure that a school receives
the intended benefits of the project design. The program also provides
teams with assistance in
managing the design and documentation process that goes along with
building a certified green school.
"CHPS Verified adds a layer of support that can help districts achieve
their design goals," said Kristin Heinen, assistant director of CHPS. "We
want districts to really experience the benefits of high performance
design – to see increased student health and energy savings at their
schools. We also want to smooth the road to applying for the state's high
performance school incentive grants through
Proposition 1D, which help districts to
invest wisely when building new schools," Heinen said.
In 2006, California voters approved a $100 million high performance school
incentive grant package under Proposition 1D.
The Office of Public School
identified the CHPS Criteria as the basis for distributing Proposition 1D
"We have used the CHPS Criteria as a design guide for our projects for
years, and we are excited to help the program evolve with the new CHPS
Verified program," said Aaron Jobson of
Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, the architect for American Canyon,
"I thought the documentation requirements were fair, well designed, and
did not require unnecessary paperwork. The CHPS Verified program will be
making the submittal to the
Division of the State Architect for Prop 1D funds for us, which
should streamline the approval process."
Having submitted their Proposition 1D
application, the American Canyon team will soon find out how much state
funding they are going to receive. A
project can earn an extra 2 percent to 10.25 percent in state incentives,
based on how many CHPS points are claimed.
Their is slated to receive a total of 47 points (out of a possible
total of 85) on the CHPS scorecard. It is a 250,000 square foot campus
with eight buildings that will house 2,200 students, with a central
location that will encourage "low-carbon commuting," reducing the need for
cars and encouraging students to walk, bike or utilize other means of
transportation. Representing the latest innovations in healthy,
energy-efficient design, the school will utilize a
cool roof, solar panels, waterless
urinals, and natural daylighting in classrooms.
Evans described the motivation behind supporting high performance school
construction in his district saying, "It had to do with us being a good
neighbor to the world." Napa Valley
Unified is no stranger to planning with the environment in mind.
The district switched over to waterless urinals in all of its schools two
years ago, saving millions of gallons of water and has also purchased a
bio-diesel bus to add to its fleet.
Most notably, the American Canyon team conquered the Superior Energy
Performance Credit of the CHPS Criteria – attaining all 13 of the possible
points for that category. "Energy performance was a focus of the design
from the beginning of the project. Every dollar the district saves in
energy costs, they can spend on students, so it was definitely important
to have an efficient project," Jobson explained. "We used many,
many strategies to decrease the energy use of the school, including
ground source heat pump mechanical system
and efficient electric lighting," he continued.
The American Canyon project is targeted to reduce its total net energy by
36 percent. A 500-kW photovoltaic system will generate solar energy for
the school. Solar panels installed on the roof are projected to contribute
at least 25 percent of the school's energy.
The campus was also designed to encourage a strong and cohesive
neighborhood. By incorporating community spaces into its plans, people of
all ages will have the opportunity to learn and interact at the
school. The design includes areas that have separate bathroom facilities
and can be accessed without compromising the security of the school.
The high school expects to partner with organizations such as Napa Valley
College, the City of American Canyon Community Services, and the Napa
Valley Education Foundation, thereby linking the community with its
This commitment to the community reflects the
fact local funding played a large part in the completion of the school
project. Evans stressed that
Napa Valley needed its voters to back both local and state funding to move
the project forward.
"We asked voters to support local and state bonds. They did – and
we're on our way," said Evans.
Susy Jones is
Communications Assistant for the Collaborative for High Performance
Schools, Inc. For more information, email
Scholarships Still Available for Greentools Conference
Collaborative for High Performance Schools will hold its annual
conference, Greentools for Healthy Schools, in Sacramento, California on
September 11-12, 2008. Full conference scholarships for school and
district officials are still available. Greentools will offer in-depth
workshops, networking opportunities, a CHPS school tour and charrettes for
upcoming CHPS school projects. Speakers include: David Thorman,
California State Architect, who will discuss grid neutrality for schools;
Rob Cook, executive officer of the Office for Public School Construction,
who will give an update on California's Proposition 1D funding for high
performance schools and David Walls, executive director of the California
Building Standards Commission, who will discuss California's new state
green building code. Learn more about the conference and register
For more information on the scholarships,