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©2015 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 57, no. 5, May 2015

By Brian Haugk, P.E., Member ASHRAE; Brian Cannon, P.E., Associate Member ASHRAE

About the Authors
Brian Haugk, P.E., is a principal and Brian Cannon, P.E., is an associate principal at Hargis Engineers in Seattle.

Valley View Middle School in Snohomish, Wash., is a new three-story, 168,000 ft2 (15 600 m2) facility that replaced a much smaller and outdated building. Mirroring the district’s commitment to resource conservation, the design team used the Living Building Challenge as a guide for defining its sustainable approach. The team strategized on harnessing the greatest contributors to resource conservation: renewable energy sources to be implemented; capturing and reusing emitted energy to offset draw from the grid; reducing consumption through system selection; and supporting behavioral changes inspired through monitoring and reporting.

The school, owned by the Snohomish School District, houses 950 students and uses less energy than the previous 1981 school that was half the size.


Design Collaboration

The project was the first for the district to consider the Living Building Challenge for a net zero-ready school. At the time, schools built prior to Valley View were too new to have adequate data to provide a benchmark for previous sustainable initiatives. It also presented an opportunity to further define and measure its sustainable approach goals, objectives and performance.

The district’s sustainable management goals balance and encompass facilities, operations and health of the building’s occupants. Their approach incorporates using durable materials and integrating building components and systems to withstand the wear and tear, targeting a 50-year plus life cycle, reducing maintenance and operations costs, reducing the use of resources and energy consumption beyond code and state requirements, and providing excellent indoor air quality and comfort. They also wanted to create a space embraced by the community.

A committee was engaged to represent a cross-sector of community and school district stakeholders. Street presence, maximized views, classroom orientation for optimum daylighting, promotion of community use after-hours, functionality, visibility and security were articulated design criteria by this group. Community-accessible spaces were configured within the campus to accommodate outdoor athletic fields, two gyms, commons area, library and lecture hall. Applying the functional goals, the professional team developed options for meeting the performance and programmatic objectives. Building placement played an important role in influencing the design approach and upholding the conservation goals.


Energy Efficiency

The school capitalizes on three strategic approaches to maximize system efficiency and reduce the overall building energy consumption:

  • Reduce: infusing higher efficient systems that align with performance objectives;
  • Reuse: redirecting typically wasted energy/resources back into the building’s operations; and
  • Renew: introducing new sources to the site without requiring further demands on mass utilities.

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