Case study: High schools achieves sustainability
This Phoenix high school achieved several sustainability goals
In 2018, the Canyon View High School, located in the desert region just west of Phoenix opened its doors. This 231,000-square-foot high school was developed through a highly collaborative engagement process, including a custom sustainability framework named VALUES: Viewing Architecture through the Lens of User Experience for Sustainability. This system guides stakeholders through an exploration of a wide range of sustainability concepts, from resilience to resource use to indoor comfort.
The system allows a team to have an open discussion on key goals, without the constraints of granular topics found in most existing green building rating system frameworks. The approach allowed the design team to not only define key goals, but develop measurable metrics for success, including consideration for the owner’s view of innovation.
Outcome 1: The high school campus includes a series of buildings that form an outdoor marketplace, dubbed the Agora, with the goal of giving students a place to gather and socialize. A goal of the project was to maximize hours in a year that the Agora is used, by targeting an operative temperature that does not exceed 85°F. This was achieved by educating the client on adaptive thermal comfort and by guiding careful integration of energy-producing shading systems, study of wind flow on the site and through use of simple low-energy fans.
Outcome 2: One identified goal of the project was to activate learning opportunities through features of the building. The building includes the use of thermal storage phase-change material for one building block to contrast to another similar building block without the material. This material allows significantly reduced active HVAC energy use, while maintaining a positive comfort condition.
The project was recognized with multiple awards, including the 2019 James D. MacConnell Award, a Structural Engineers Association of Arizona award and the 2020 AIA Committee on Architecture for Education Award of Merit. These outcomes recognize that early and positive collaboration results in multiple benefits that go beyond efficiency alone — that is what drives true sustainability for a building that serves its intended function for generations to come.