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PUSHING

THE ENVELOPE DIAMOND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL


The US Department of Defense is a massive organization. Overseeing the military departments of the Joints Chiefs of Staff as well as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, the DoD employs over 3,000,000 employees across every time zone and in every climate. A substantial number of these employees have young families; approximately 73,000 children of these military families attend a school operated by the US Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). DoDEA is committed to “ensuring that all school-aged children of military families are provided a worldclass education that prepares them for postsecondary education and/or career success and to be leading contributors in their communities as well as in our 21st century globalized society.”


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DESIGNING THE FUTURE With this ambitious mission and forward-looking curriculum, however, DoDEA still faces challenges common to just about every school district in the country: managing aging facilities, and determining how best to prepare for the future. Several years ago, DoDEA identified nearly 100 schools in need of renovation or replacement. In the process of facilities planning, DoDEA wanted not only to improve the school buildings, but also to create world-class learning environments for its students. LS3P has long been a passionate supporter of K-12 design excellence and DoDEA’s programs, so when DoDEA undertook a two-year visioning process to help develop Ed Specs for the system’s future, LS3P joined the team as thought leaders in K-12 design.


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GOALS

Flexible, adaptable spaces Facilities to serve as both teaching tools and teaching environments Learning environments to support differentiated learning Multiple modalities of instruction and multidisciplinary teaching Learning hubs for real-world skills development


21ST CENTURY LEARNING

GOALS Ultimately, the process yielded the following 21st Century Learning goals: to create flexible, adaptable facilities; to design facilities to serve as both teaching tools and teaching environments; to support differentiated learning, multiple modalities of instruction, and multidisciplinary teaching; and to encourage real-world skills development. When the time came to put these goals into practice, the new replacement school for Diamond Elementary School at Ft. Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia provided a welcome opportunity to generate a cutting-edge design. The school not only integrates best practices for the design of learning environments, but also leading-edge sustainable design strategies, both of which will serve DoDEA and its students well for many years to come. 9


1GOAL st

The first goal, to design a leading-edge 21st Century learning environment, was something with which the design team had plenty of experience. Diamond’s layout features a “neighborhood” design which helps to create a kid-friendly scale across the 122,077 SF school. Each neighborhood includes four Learning Studios surrounding a Learning Hub with project-based learning zones, collaboration areas for teachers, and flexible spaces- small, medium, and large- to accommodate a wide variety of activities and instructional modes. Operable glass partitions allow the rooms to be subdivided easily, providing a degree of acoustical control while maintaining transparency. The adaptable spaces help teachers to individualize instruction and tailor the curriculum to a variety of learning styles. The neighborhoods are aligned along the north side of a two-story commons with as many second-story pop-up clerestories as possible to bring natural light deep into the interior. The northern orientation of the learning spaces takes advantage of diffuse light, reducing glare and solar heat gain. As with any school design, the team had to balance safety, required adjacencies, visibility, and established design standards to arrive at the ideal neighborhood layout, and the resulting footprint was a success.


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2 GOAL nd

The second goal, to deliver a sustainable high-performance building which would achieve LEED Silver cerification, took a bit more research. The design team started with tried-and-true passive solar principles, and the site accommodated an ideal orientation along an east/west axis. Major energy savings, however, came from the envelope design. The team conducted extensive studies on envelope possibilities which would meet the client’s energy goals and budget, and presented the wall/roof analysis to DoDEA to help identify the options with the most “bang for the buck.”


One impressive option in terms of cost and performance was an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) system, which consists of two insulation layers connected with reinforcing with a void in between. These units snap together similar to Legos. Once they are interlocked, concrete is poured in between the insulation layers, creating a solid mass wall. The designers knew that ICF was high-performance enough to be commonly used in Net Zero buildings, but still had to determine whether the system works well in the Southeast, and whether the system would be truly cost-competitive with standard brick and block construction.

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“NETpredicted ZERO READY”

Energy Use Intensity (pEUI) of

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As it turns out, it does, and it is. The ICF has enough mass to provide substantial thermal properties during the day, absorbing solar energy and slowly releasing it during the cooling of the evening. It provides the tightly sealed exterior which is so critical to energy use reduction, and it has the added benefit of being blast-resistant (a required quality for buildings on the base). In fact, after energy modeling, the design has a predicted Energy Use Intensity (pEUI) of 26. That figure not only exceeds the AIA’s 2030 Commitment’s current targeted energy reduction goals -70% energy reduction above average energy use for a given building type- but it comfortably puts the school in the range of “Net Zero Ready.” In designing the school and incorporating holistic sustainable design strategies, the design team found ASHRAE’s Advanced Energy Design Guide to be an invaluable resource. The Guide delineates design strategies to achieve a 50% energy use reduction over ASHRAE Standards (specifically, the minimum requirements of Standard 90.1-2004), and included a wealth of information specific to K-12 school design regarding daylighting, glass selection, and other key factors.

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DoDEA requires a life cycle cost analysis for all major mechanical systems, with a targeted payback of 40 years or less. The envelope and all of its components easily met this requirement, as did Diamond’s hybrid HVAC system. Dulohery Weeks Engineers was instrumental in designing the high-performance HVAC and lighting systems for maximum energy reduction. The HVAC system uses closed-loop geothermal heat exchangers and features a cooling tower to provide the extra heat rejection capacity needed for cooling operation. The design team selected this system to achieve simplicity of operation and maintenance, very high efficiency, long life, and lowest life cycle cost. Space heating and cooling consist of unitary geothermal extended-range water source heat pumps. Ground source heat pump-based dedicated outside air systems (DOAS) introduce outside air into the building. Demand controlled ventilation utilizing CO2 sensors serve densely occupied zones with varying occupancies such as the gym and the multipurpose room. The building’s lighting is managed by a building-wide lighting control system which incorporates daylight and vacancy sensors. The daylighting sensors control illumination levels based on the ambient light conditions. Clerestory skylights in the Learning Hubs balance lighting on the second floor photo-sensors to automatically dim the lights to save electricity. Vacancy sensors control the lighting during normal building hours to keep lights off when the spaces are not occupied.


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SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGIES Energy dashboard in the student commons displays real-time energy use (and savings) using student-centered software Weather station Recycling centers Demonstration photovoltaic panel all help to illustrate the interconnectedness of the school’s systems


SUSTAINABILITY

strategies

The school’s sustainability strategies are on full display throughout the building as a teaching tool. An energy dashboard in the student commons displays real-time energy use (and savings) using studentcentered software; outdoor classrooms, teaching garden, educational LEED signage, daylighting, low flow plumbing fixtures, a weather station, recycling centers, and a demonstration photovoltaic panel all help to illustrate the interconnectedness of the school’s systems. The team is pursuing LEED Silver certification for the project, and also utilizing the ICF envelope in other school designs.

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SUCCESS! Inspiring, engaging learning environment? Check. High-performance, Net Zero-Ready building? Check. Innovative curriculum, happier kids, better learning, substantial energy savings? Check, check, check, check. With DoDEA constantly raising the bar for what schools can be and how they can perform, the future looks bright for the field of K-12 design, and for every student who has the opportunity to learn and grow in one of DoDEA’s leading-edge learning environments.


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Profile for LS3P

Pushing the Envelope: Diamond Elementary School  

The US Department of Defense is a massive organization. Overseeing the military departments of the Joints Chiefs of Staff as well as the Arm...

Pushing the Envelope: Diamond Elementary School  

The US Department of Defense is a massive organization. Overseeing the military departments of the Joints Chiefs of Staff as well as the Arm...

Profile for ls3p

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