Way to Go Team – Cesar E. Chavez Education Center Wins!

And the “Savings By Design Energy Efficiency Integration Award” goes to:

 Cesar E. Chavez Education Center, Oakland, California

Architect: VBN Architects
Electrical Engineering: Pete O. Lapid & Associates, Inc.
Mechanical Engineering: Raymond Brooks Engineers, Inc.
Acoustical Engineering: Thorburn Associates Inc.
Owner: Oakland Unified School District

In Oakland’s densely populated Fruitvale/San Antonio area, the design of the Cesar E. Chavez Education Center responds to Oakland Unified School District’s mission to raise student academic performance and provide equal opportunities for all children to succeed. The core of the 672-student public elementary school is 25 classrooms, each with outdoor learning patios or shared decks, conceived in two-story, fully day lit wings to form two “small schools.” The facility’s program supports small class sizes of 20 for K-3 and team teaching. The project encompasses 95,647 square feet on a 7.85-acre site. It was certified by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) program with a score of 36 points for high-performance design, including 10 points for environmental quality, 11 for energy efficiency, and 10 for site design. It exceeds Title 24 margins by 25 to 30 percent.

The entire site layout and specific academic areas maximize natural day lighting through a combination of controlled south facing glazing with sunscreens, diffuse north-facing glazing and translucent sandwich panel skylights. Maximum natural ventilation, passive heating and cooling (with air conditioning only in the multipurpose room and library) and a well-integrated efficient lighting and control system help achieve the energy analysis of 30 percent energy savings over minimum state standards.

Acoustically, Cesar Chavez faced steep challenges, with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) tracks less than 400 feet from the nearest classroom on one side and the very busy International Boulevard flanking the school on the other side. To reduce sound from the outside sources, the classrooms are located as far from the BART tracks as possible. The school’s windows are also more acoustically insulating – laminated and with a larger air space than is typical. And, designers used additional layers of gypsum board on the walls and ceiling to provide a higher level of noise attenuation.

The jurors were impressed by the efforts made to bring the best of energy-efficient, sustainable design to a tough, constrained urban site. “This really is an oasis,” the jurors exclaimed. “It makes a compelling argument for dealing with cultures and context and it embodies the success of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools program. If schools should be centers of the community, this project supplies an outstanding example.” The other two projects selected for the 2004 Savings by Design award are: Challengers Tennis Club for Boys and Girls – Los Angeles, California and Lake View Terrace Branch Library – Los Angeles, California.

More information on CHPS and Savings By Design can be found at: http://www.chps.net and http://www.savingsbydesign.com.