The Nueva School by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects sits atop the California hills as a part of its surroundings. The LEED Gold Certified Building features green roofs, recycled site timber, photovoltaic systems and storm water reuse. Singular to this project is a unique approach and community involvement.
This addition to the existing Nueva School contains a new library, student center and classroom building. All three of these structures are placed on hillside around a central plaza.
From conception through completion the Nueva School has been both environmentally and community oriented. The addition to the school designed by LMS Architects adds on to an established school founded in 1967. Leading of the school set its mission “to inspire passion for lifelong learning, foster social acuity, and develop each child’s imaginative mind, enabling students to learn how to make choices that will benefit the world.” The environmental responsibility of the addition pays homage to that mission.
The children, K-12, of the original Nueva School, upon hearing the plan to replace a parking lot and existing cypress grove to expand, were upset and rightfully so. To appease and involve the students some were given the opportunity to design their own ideal project after being given square footage, objectives and a budget. In the end the children won out. Many of the existing cypress trees were kept and the ones which were chopped down were recycled as screens, decking and benches for the project.
In keeping with an environmental agenda the structure implemented several other techniques. For one the three buildings that make up the addition were situated on grade such that little site disturbance was necessary. Green roofs cover the library and student center, taking away from the structure’s heat island effect and providing a habitat for native bird and insect species. Most notable of the insect species is Myrtle’s silverspot butterfly which is endangered. Rainwater collection is also among the buildings’ sustainable attributes.
With all of these green elements helping to reduce environmental impact the Nueva School uses 65 percent less energy than a typical new school facility in the US. This may be due to the photovoltaic systems which provide about 21 percent of the school’s electricity needs. The storm water collection and high efficiency systems within allow the school to use 50 percent less water than that of the typical new school.