When the Manteca Unified School District (MUSD) in California's Central Valley wanted to build an environmental education community center, they made sure the building itself was a teaching tool for sustainability. The District turned to Manteca’s American Modular Systems to design and build a Gen7 Zero Net Energy facility called the Regional Environmental Studies Center (RESC) that gives Central Valley students and residents free and open access to environmental education and resources. The state-of-the-art building uses roof-mounted 10kW PV panels, combined with energy-saving systems and technology, to produce enough electricity onsite to cover the center’s annual usage. The building's sustainable features were designed to integrate with MUSD's educational mission -- to teach students and visitors about the project's many green features and materials.
iPad owners can keep an eye on the amount of energy that the building uses, since all of its systems are connected to the web-based Gen7 energy monitoring system. From the solar array onwards, all information about energy consumption can be tracked precisely, and even managed in realtime. With such attention being paid to energy use, the system has been tweaked in order to achieve the most optimal performance possible, to the point that the RESC now produces more energy than it uses.
The building’s exterior is clad in 150-year-old oak siding that was reclaimed from old barns, and the detached butterfly roof assists in regulating the structure’s temperature. In comparison, the interior has a much more modern aesthetic, with bright, airy rooms that can accommodate groups ranging from small student groups to lectures and community meetings. From its FSC-certified wood to daylighting and ample ventilation, this building exemplifies the grace of modern, sustainable building, and may very well influence other architects who work in similar styles.