It’s spring at last, and the new Salmon Creek School in Occidental, CA is celebrating the sunny weather with a beautiful new living roof! The recently finished building is the first school in California to be LEED Platinum certified, and it sprouts not just a green roof but lavender, pink, white, and yellow as well. Naturally, the green roof is just the starting point of what this undulating facility achieves. Set in a pristine location, the K-8 charter school is also a community and environmental education center focused on place-based learning.

Pesinger Architects and Symbios Design worked closely with students, administrators, community and environmental groups to cover all the bases. The children can eat cafeteria food that came from the organic garden, the walls are not only natural plaster but actually can clean the air, natural light is carefully introduced to keep the kids perky and to help heat the building in the winter. In the summer the green roof keeps the school cool and creates a habitat for wildlife all year long. Materials and lighting were all considered for their low environmental impact. Put all this together and you come close to having a living building.

The school’s integrated system design uses natural resources to enhance the building’s environmental profile. A 30Kw solar array provides electrons to run a well, while a bioswale and on-site wetlands replenish storm water in the ground. The kids get to thrive in an environment that keeps the natural world within reach while they learn about the interconnectedness of all things.

+ Symbios Design

+ Pesinger Architects