New Chavez School Earns Design Awards

Downtown Long Beach’s newest school, Cesar Chavez Elementary School, has won eight awards for outstanding design and energy efficiency.

The awards come from various construction experts and regulatory agencies. Most recently, Chavez earned a 2005 Savings by Design Award "for expert integration of energy efficiency" and earned certification by the Collaboration for High Performance Schools for its environmentally sound design.

The Savings by Design Awards are co-sponsored by the American Institute of Architects and administered by Southern California Edison, the Southern California Gas Company and other utilities.

The non-profit Collaboration for High Performance Schools was established in 2002 in response to California’s energy crisis. It is a free informational resource made up of all of the major state agencies that are involved with building public schools, including public utilities, designers and school facility planning officials.

Chavez earned the two recent awards for surpassing state energy efficiency requirements by more than 34 percent. Reductions in annual energy consumption at Chavez equate to annual utility savings of nearly $30,000 compared to minimally compliant buildings.

"The ability to integrate innovative environmental technologies into a well-sculpted building is a tough job and done extremely well in this project," declared the Savings by Design jurors. They complimented the building’s use of color, its relationship to the open space, and its low-cost, high-efficiency design. The school also scored points for efficient use of limited urban space, and for "carefully considering shared use and the health and support of the entire community in environmental and social terms."

The jurors concluded, "It’s the kind of long-term reality that we need in order to build wonderful places for children, not just when they’re in school but the whole time."

The K-5 school opened in fall 2004 and includes an onsite health clinic and joint-use gymnasium.

Chavez was built in close cooperation with the City of Long Beach. A partnership with adjacent Cesar Chavez Park allows the public to use the school’s gymnasium on weekends and after school on weekdays, in exchange for sectioning off a portion of the park as a playground during school hours.

At Chavez, storm water is diverted from roofs, roads and parking lots, and it is filtered before being discharged into the storm drain systems, while other areas are sloped to channel storm water into planted areas. Drought tolerant landscaping and efficient irrigation reduced outdoor water consumption by 100,000 gallons per year compared to standard buildings.

Recycled materials were used throughout the school, which features post-consumer recycled ceiling tiles, toilet partitions, gypsum wallboard, aluminum window frames, curtain wall systems and rubberized playground. Builders also used materials that emitted fewer chemicals in ceiling tiles, wall insulation, flooring, wallboards and wall coverings.

The lighting systems at Chavez make efficient use of dimming devices, daylight sensors and occupancy sensors, while a highly efficient heating and cooling system reduces costs even further.

Chavez has won six other design honors recently from the American Institute of Architects Orange County Chapter, the Coalition for Adequate School Housing/American Institute of Architects California Council and the American Institute of Architects Long Beach/South Bay Chapter.