Where would you expect to find the first zero-energy classroom building in North America? If you guessed the Marin Country Day School (MCDS) in Corte Madera, California then you win. This 34,934 square-foot project by EHDD was just recognized with a Merit Award by the AIA California Council, which is icing on the cake since the project received LEED Platinum certification by the USGBC in 2010.
The campus follows the tone set by its natural surroundings, and EHDD did a good job of bringing the landscape into the heart of the campus via a terraced courtyard. The outdoor learning spaces adjacent to many of the classrooms allow for the campus to preserve the natural surroundings while framing the site as an educational opportunity for the students. A series of bioswales throughout the campus filter water runoff from the building and hardscape, teaching students about water treatment. The cleansed water then enters an aquifer, helping to reduce the pollutants that enter the San Francisco Bay.
The centerpiece of the project is the 13,600 square-foot Learning Resources Center (LRC), which reached the goal of net-zero energy in 2010. This two-story building incorporates rows of operable windows for daylighting, as well as a solar chimney along the center to facilitate stack-effect cooling. The natural ventilation from the windows is assisted by in-floor radiant cooling that is fed by a 15,000 gallon cistern deep below the building. This graywater cistern also helps to fill the toilets in the building.
EHDD Architecture worked with energy consultants at Stantec to complete the second-phase of the project, which installed a 95.5 kilowatt photovoltaic array on the south-facing roofs. Marin Country Day School’s photovoltaic array helped reduce the annual purchased energy use by 79% from the base case. For the progressive-minded, affluent school, saving money on energy consumption just means that more money can be spent on educating the students. What better way to educate the students than to have the 35-acre campus be computer-monitored in real-time to show the building’s environmental operations?
Photos © Michael David Rose