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Orange County classroom’s green retrofit complete

“Greenovated” classroom to be tested against traditional classroom

by Jason WheelerPublished: September 20, 2012 08:45 AM

The green classroom project launched by the Orange County chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council is fast approaching its completion date. Initially proposed last fall, the three-part project is aimed at educating students about sustainability and environmental impact, retrofitting an existing classroom with more sustainable materials and systems, and measuring the new green classroom’s performance against a traditional classroom at the same school.

The green classroom, built at Davis Magnet School in Costa Mesa, will be tested against a traditional classroom. The classroom’s design began last November and construction this July. Its completion will be in time for USGBC-OC’s first annual Green Apple Day of Service on September 29, where green advocates from around the world join in support of environmentally sustainable schools.

“We must do a better job creating positive education environments,” said Wendy Rogers, Chair of the USGBC-OC Green Schools Committee and Design principal at architectural design firm LPA Inc., a partner on the project. “Outdated buildings, with little access to daylight, outdated fixtures, and poor ventilation do little to prepare today’s learners for the future.”

The students at Davis Magnet will learn about the green classroom first hand. They will study the cause and effect of their classroom actions and environment, such as measuring ventilation loads, monitoring utility usage, and understanding simple ecological actions, like turning off lights to conserve power. They will also learn how they can impact their school’s financial and environmental decisions.

Dr. Kevin Rafferty, the school’s principal, sees the opportunity that the green classroom represents. “This is a perfect fit for us because Davis Magnet School really emphasizes hands on, inquiry-based learning and real live experimentation,” Rafferty said. “All of the measurements, data, and information produced will not only benefit the scientific researches, but also be fully available to the teachers and students.”

The green classroom, funded through private donations, will be equipped with lighting that optimizes natural light, environmentally friendly flooring and furnishings, a new ventilation system and wireless submeters to monitor utility usage. The paints and finishes used are highly recyclable with few volatile components. “It’s all very scientific,” said Rogers, who hopes the green classroom will bring attention to environmentally friendly classrooms.

The Green Apple Day of Service will bring together teachers, parents, and students to celebrate the green classroom’s completion and the beginning of the experiment.

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