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School Construction 2007

September 20, 2007

Lynnwood a proving ground for green schools

  • State enlists $89 million high school to test green strategies
    Bassetti Architects


    Under Washington’s 2005 green building rules, state-funded school construction projects are required to achieve LEED silver or its equivalent.

    This requirement begins in 2007 for school districts of over 2,000 students. The Legislature provided special funding for voluntary participation by projects in 2006.

    Lynnwood High School participated in the Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol pilot program and its school district, Edmonds, received a grant of $500,000.

    According to Ed Peters, capital projects director for the Edmonds School District, “Lynnwood High School’s low energy use will benefit education because the money to pay utility bills comes from the same operating budget as do teacher salaries and classroom materials.”

    Design goals

    Image by Bassetti Architects
    The academic areas at Lynnwood High School are organized into four small learning communities that surround a daylit gathering space at the heart of the structure. The $89 million school is set to open in the fall of 2009.

    The Edmonds School District is committed to providing students with a rigorous, collaborative and personalized education. This goal shaped the organization of Lynnwood High School into small learning communities with administrative services distributed throughout.

    Unlike the original school, which is located on a dispersed campus and lacks spaces that support whole-school gatherings, the new school is organized around a great central “agora,” or marketplace. The agora provides a focused gathering space — a place to see and be seen — where opportunities for learning and career pathways welcome students and community alike.


    The district chose to develop a new project that modeled sustainable design in order to provide a highly adaptable facility that had a minimal impact on the environment. Initial planning for the new school identified important educational and sustainability issues.

    The design team, together with school district administrators and custodial personnel, citizens and power company representatives, set goals for sustainable design and brainstormed methods to achieve those goals. These goals came together in a design that is truly sustainable — a high school that is flexible and adaptable, accommodating different models of education as our understanding of the learning process develops.

    Lynnwood High School
    Owner: Edmonds School District

    Architect: Bassetti Architects, Seattle

    General contractor: Cornerstone General Contractors, Redmond

    Structural engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Seattle

    Mechanical engineer: Notkin, Seattle

    Electrical engineer: Sparling, Seattle

    Civil engineer: Reid Middleton, Everett

    Landscape architect: The Berger Partnership, Seattle

    Acoustical consultant: SSA Acoustics, Seattle

    The design team approached an array of sustainable strategies in a comprehensive manner. This holistic view of the building in its setting influenced many aspects of the project.

    The goals were defined along five objectives that correspond to Washington’s Sustainable Schools Protocol: enhance the indoor environment, minimize energy use, minimize site impacts, maintain water quality and conserve natural resources.

    Indoor environment

    There is a critical relationship between indoor environmental quality and well-configured educational spaces. Educational facility designers and school districts alike know that enhanced indoor environments can improve student attention, alertness and the ability to learn.

    At Lynnwood, learning spaces can be reconfigured without structural or mechanical modification.

    Interior shear walls are minimized. Fixed points like stairs and plumbing cores are clustered to maximize flexibility. Light and vent shafts bring daylight and fresh air into central locations that can work with multiple room configurations.

    In addition to saving energy, natural ventilation and cooling improves acoustics. A lack of fan noise, coupled with sound-absorbing surfaces, results in learning spaces that are quieter and have better speech intelligibility.

    The school design maximizes daylight in 75 percent of areas with critical tasks. Classrooms have lighting fixtures that reduce glare, along with individual temperature and lighting controls. An indoor-air quality plan has been put into effect during the current construction, and low-emitting materials are used throughout.

    Minimize energy use

    Specific strategies for energy savings include passively ventilated classrooms, limited areas of air conditioning, lighting fixtures with high-output energy-efficient lamps, photocells that take advantage of high daylighting levels, envelope insulation that exceeds code minimums, occupancy sensors that control lighting and HVAC, energy-efficient condensing boilers, and distributed domestic hot water heaters that reduce energy loss.

    Low-energy LED aisle lighting is used at stairs and in the theater. The school also has a weather station that adjusts natural-ventilation chimney louvers based on wind speed and direction. The lighting, hot water and HVAC equipment are governed by an energy-management system that measures and controls loads, even sensing when windows are open and adjusting heat, cooling and ventilation accordingly.

    To ensure all systems will operate as designed, the district has a building systems commissioning contract. The building’s efficiency will exceed the state minimum. And in return for the $500,000 grant from the state Legislature, the district will provide ongoing building performance data to the state.

    Computer modeling shows energy savings for Lynnwood should exceed the energy code baseline by almost 44 percent. After reviewing the models, the Snohomish Public Utilities District granted the project an energy savings incentive of $1.40 per square foot.

    Minimize site impacts

    Several measures will help reduce site impacts. The list includes extra bicycle parking, storm management measures during construction, a “cool” roof to reduce the heat island effect, and joint use of facilities and fields with other organizations in the community.

    Maintain water quality

    Water quality is maintained by reducing potable water use. Measures include planting drought-tolerant native plants, using synthetic turf fields and reducing permanent irrigation systems.

    Conserve natural resources

    Material strategies include waste-management measures to reduce construction waste by minimum 75 percent and use of sustainable building materials (rapidly renewing materials, equipment free of hydrochlorofluorocarbons and materials manufactured within 500 miles).

    The Sustainable Schools Protocol equivalent to LEED silver has been established as 40 credits. Lynnwood is anticipated to earn at least 48 credits.

    The Sustainable Schools Protocol provided a guideline, set specific targets and helped prioritize sustainable strategies for Lynnwood. The district and design team focused on energy performance to save money and be environmentally responsible, designing a building with exceptional energy performance that reduces carbon emissions almost 50 percent compared with current standard school design.

    By providing a building design that is user-friendly, flexible, adaptable, uplifting and energy efficient, the Edmonds School District will have a facility that provides maximum longevity.

    Gregory Hepp, a principal with Bassetti Architects, leads the firm’s sustainable design focus. Hepp serves on the statewide committee that developed and monitors the Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol.

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