Valley View Middle School
Running to the End of the Dock: An Investigation into Education and Sustainability.
Beginnings: When a school design team is challenged to go above and beyond current practice, education and sustainability mutually expand. After engaging in a comprehensive effort to inform and involve the community about the need for a new middle school, the design team continued the momentum by reaching out to faculty, staff, and students. Carefully listening to their needs and dreams, the team painstakingly collected and documented every interview, comment, idea, and emotion.
Challenge: “Run to the end of the dock… and then tell me why we can’t go further!” was the resounding charge from a progressive superintendent interested in changing the educational landscape to one that exponentially gives back to the environment and community.
Moral Imperative: To serve the community and conserve valuable resources, Valley View Middle School is designed to be a leading institution for both educational delivery and sustainable practice. The Living Building Challenge was used as a guideline through which all design elements and technologies were filtered. Similarly, unique educational specifications were developed to set Valley View Middle School apart as a leader in innovative educational delivery. Throughout the design process, each aspect of the design was scrutinized through the lens of these guidelines, yielding a sustainable education facility that transcends previous norms.
Integrated Design: To ensure the legibility of the program model, the design team engaged in significant coordination of systems and environmental design elements throughout the design process. A generous design schedule and extensive professional discipline integration were key contributors to the successful accomplishment of the design. Numerous technologies were vetted and the “total cost of ownership” was thoroughly scrutinized. Key strategies included the following: reduced energy demand via envelope design, solar technology, geothermal technology, rainwater harvesting, integrated value messaging, and interpretive signage.
Measuring Success: A key indicator of success at Valley View is the ongoing involvement of staff, students, and community members. The school is alive and active every day of the week, with a diverse group of users interfacing with all aspects of the facility. High utilization indicates that Valley View is meeting the needs it was designed to.
In addition, success has been measured by the project’s ability to convert capital expenditures into operational savings. The new Valley View Middle School uses less energy than the previous 1981 facility which was half the size.
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