AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects
Sacred Heart Schools Michael J. Homer Science and Student Life Center
(Homer Science & Student Life Center)
|Photo credit: Tim Griffith|
- Location: Atherton, CA
- Building type(s): Assembly, K-12 education
- 44,100 ft2 (4,100 m2)
- Project scope: a single building
- Suburban setting
- Completed August 2009
- Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED for Schools 2.0 (2007)--Level: Platinum
Founded in 1898 by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Sacred Heart Preparatory is a 550-student co-educational high school located on the 64-acre campus of the K-12 Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton, California. The historic red brick Main Building, built at the school's founding, still dominates the center of campus. The school's mission is to provide an integrated approach to learning, which is spiritually nurturing and academically challenging, producing students who are "committed to social justice, respectful of creation and prepared to be stewards of the earth's resources."
Michael J. Homer was an early Silicon Valley pioneer who played an important role in the development of the personal computer, the Internet, and the hand-held digital device. In honor of Mr. Homer and as a reflection of the innovative Silicon Valley culture he helped to create, the Homer Center brings together Science, Community and Nature in one unique educational environment. The 44,109-square foot building incorporates an unusual hybrid program of eight sophisticated science classrooms, a 700-seat auditorium, a 350-seat dining hall with full commercial kitchen, and administrative offices in spaces that inspire scientific inquiry, foster a strong learning community and promote environmental stewardship.
The project anticipates a LEED Platinum certification.
The Homer Center supports Sacred Heart Schools' educational mission, inspiring respect for creation and teaching eco-literacy by offering a variety of integrated educational environments that connect students and faculty to the natural world on a daily basis. The design encourages scientific inquiry, linking the school's science curriculum to the building's functions throughout the seasons—how it breathes, resists gravity, conserves precious resources and generates energy. It respects the unique character of its place by weaving the new building into the history and culture of the site. It honors the land by preserving and restoring native landscapes, fostering biodiversity and creating new habitats for native species that can be observed by the students.
Through a variety of simple, observable strategies, the project models advanced resource efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction, reducing site energy use by 69% from the national average for schools and exceeding the goal set for the 2030 Challenge. Potable water use is reduced by over 50%, teaching students to value this increasingly precious resource. Finally, the building expresses advanced resource conservation through simple, compact building forms, efficient structural systems, sophisticated composting and waste management programs, and the intensive use of recycled, renewable and regional materials.
Owner & Occupancy
- Owned by Sacred Heart Schools
- Typically occupied by 650 people, 20 hours per person per week; and 50 visitors per week, 1 hour per visitor per week
Green specifications, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Open space preservation, Wildlife habitat, Indigenous vegetation, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Massing and orientation, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Adaptable design, Salvaged materials, Local materials, Certified wood, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Thermal comfort, Low-emitting materials