AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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The multi-purpose building as seen from its courtyard is shown in this photograph.
Photo credit: Michael David Rose


  • Location: Seaside, CA
  • Building type(s): K-12 education
  • New construction
  • 21,200 ft2 (1,970 m2)
  • Project scope: multiple buildings
  • Suburban setting
  • Completed October 2006
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2/v.2.1--Level: Platinum (57 points)

The shared vision for the new Chartwell School campus was to create an exceptional, high-performance learning environment for children with learning differences, including dyslexia. Chartwell serves students grades 1–8 in the greater Monterey Bay area.

The goal was to create a campus that integrated design strategies proven to improve learning outcomes — a campus that would function as a teaching tool about sustainability while dramatically reducing the school's environmental impact. Sited on a hill overlooking the Monterey Bay, this project seamlessly blends the elements of site, program and environmental conservation. All design and construction decisions were made with those three factors in mind.

As Douglas Atkins, Chartwell's executive director, recently stated, "Our LEED Platinum campus models how improved academic outcomes and responsible resource stewardship build on each other."

It is the hope for the Chartwell project that a new generation of children will be inspired by the possibility of a built environment that sustains and restores our natural environment.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2009. It was submitted by EHDD Architecture in San Francisco, California. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

The key ideas for the Chartwell project were: 1) to create the best possible learning environment by providing exceptional daylighting, views, indoor air quality, and thermal comfort; 2) to make the sustainable design strategies a visible part of the students' education by developing the site as a teaching tool with natural drainage and native and food-producing plants; 3) to inspire and excite the community about the possibilities of sustainable design and in turn generate support and private funding; 4) to reach net-zero electricity use through exceptional efficiency and adding photovoltaic (PV) capacity to meet the remaining electrical demand; and 5) to reach these goals with only a modest cost premium.

All of these goals are intertwined in the resulting Chartwell campus. Tall, north-facing windows and clerestories provide excellent daylighting, support the net-zero electrical goal and improving student outcomes. Sloping shed roofs for good photovoltaic orientation and an extensive measurement and verification system support optimal function of the building and provide learning opportunities for the students. Radiant heat provides a quiet learning environment and reduces the size of mechanical equipment and mechanical rooms. Framing the structure at two feet on center reduces the amount of material used on the project and also saves on overall construction costs. These are just a few examples of how the five key ideas mentioned above formed the basis of the design.

The project also involved extensive research embodied in a published case study on Design for Deconstruction (DfD) funded by an EPA research grant.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned by Chartwell
  • Typically occupied by 150 people, 40 hours per person per week; and 30 visitors per week, 6 hours per visitor per week


Integrated team, Simulation, Green specifications, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Brownfield redevelopment, Wildlife habitat, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Water harvesting, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Efficient irrigation, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Massing and orientation, Glazing, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Adaptable design, Durability, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Certified wood, C&D waste management, Occupant recycling, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Ventilation effectiveness, Thermal comfort, Noise control, Indoor air quality monitoring

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Last updated: 5/18/2009

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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