Santa Maria High School Transforms into a New 21st Century Learning Environment with High Performance Green Techniques
Imagine a high school that is equipped with the latest 21st century technology, including environmentally advanced buildings powered by solar panels, strategically installed “QR” codes around campus, and classrooms that can transform at a moment’s notice. This 21st century high school is a reality for students at the newly transformed Santa Maria High School. Rachlin Partners in Culver City created all the new design, expansion and modernization learning features.
The project, funded by the Santa Maria Joint High School District, consists of a 2-story, 14-classroom building with advanced learning spaces for the school’s music department. The total construction cost was $9,635,000 for the 26,336 SF project.
In accordance with District-wide standards for 21st Century education that Rachlin Partners developed with the District’s staff, the interior classroom design includes moveable furniture, information technology with a flexible and expandable backbone, and multiple video monitors that enable the classroom to be adapted to various teaching methodologies. A core component of the building’s program is the dual-purpose choir and band room, accommodating the needs of the school’s student musicians for practice space and instrument storage. The room is acoustically isolated to ensure that music and sound do not interfere with instruction in other classrooms.
For the exterior form, Rachlin Partners drew inspiration from the adjacent Ethel Pope Auditorium, developing a complementary aesthetic that is modern yet respectful of the school’s history and original Romanesque and Classical Renaissance-style buildings built in 1923.
“We are so pleased with the transformation of Santa Maria High School,” says Michael Rachlin, AIA, Founding Partner of Rachlin Partners. "It’s now a fully modernized environment that is environmentally and contextually sensitive, as well as fully equipped with the latest learning technology. The end result is a fully adaptable structure that can easily be transformed for new uses moving into the future.”
Designed to CHPS standards, the Classroom Building incorporates several systems to improve air quality, reduce energy needs, and conserve water. Furthermore, the building itself was designed to be an interactive learning tool. There are demonstration areas insides and outside the building equipped with “QR” codes for students to access on their smart devices and receive detailed information about how each system works. Students can monitor and track the systems to verify actual usage and savings.
-Air quality – the Classroom Building is designed with materials that emit very low amounts of volatile compounds (VOCs).
-Energy Efficiency – Air handlers respond to individual classroom demand by providing only what is needed, for a much more efficient use of energy.
-The windows are dual pane Low-E glass which greatly reduces the transmission of heat, by blocking 67% of the unwanted solar energy from entering, while allowing visible light to penetrate.
-Lights automatically turn off in unoccupied spaces, maximizing energy efficiency.
-Water Reduction – automatic hand dryers installed use 80% less energy to operate than standard hand dryers. This also eliminates unrecycled paper towel waste.
-Restroom fixtures have controlled usage.
-Toilets use 20% less water than many similar low volume fixtures, saving 45,000 gallons of water per year.
-Urinals use 87% less water than similar fixtures, saving 61,000 gallons of water per year.
-Lavatory faucets automatically turn off and the batteries used to operate the valve draw their power from a hydroelectric generator.
Solar panels function as shading elements covering the new, 2,700 square foot band shell structure just west of the Classroom Building. The panels offer the ideal combination of shade for the students while rehearsing or performing outdoors, and full exposure to the sun to generate the maximum amount of electrical energy possible for the classrooms.
The characteristics of the SMHS solar panel system include:
-256 total panels – 128 panels in the Classroom Building system, 102 on the Band Shell and 26 on the building roof.
-The solar panel system can collect as much as 32 kilowatts of electricity per hour. The power is input into the electrical system through inverters to the main distribution panel at 480V, 3 phase.
-The solar panel generated is about 20% - 25% of the building’s total electrical need.