CO Architects' Net-Zero High School

The main buildings of arguably the greenest high school ever built are oriented to let in sea breezes and an abundance of natural light.

On breezy bluffs with views to Catalina Island, construction is underway on the first high school in the nation that will generate 100 percent of its campus-wide net electrical consumption. The pathbreaking facility, conceived by Los Angeles-based CO Architects, will harness the sun and wind via solar panels and 36 wind turbines, while a green roof, shaded and operable windows, daylighting, and efficient HVAC systems will reduce electricity use at the 115,000-square-foot Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) South Region High School (No. 15). Slated for completion in 2012, it will arguably be the greenest high school ever built.

About 30 percent of the school’s electrical needs will be met by the wind turbines, and the balance will be generated by solar panels. The main buildings of the $62 million new school are oriented to let in sea breezes and natural light, and will have enough thermal mass to balance the mild temperature fluctuations of that region. The built area was minimized to preserve natural surroundings and maximize space for playing fields at the school site. Only drought-tolerant native California species will be planted.

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