KIEEC – Aspects of Sustainability

In its charge as model of and enabler for environmentally responsible practices, the Kingman Island Environmental Education Center (KIEEC) is a tightly integrated whole of both low- and high-technology methods of promoting sustainability.  As a LEED Platinum project, it shall meet the highest standards of environmentalism.  Some of the key features of the building, which would be indispensable to such a goal, are are listed here.

  • Building orientation.  East-west axial orientation diminishes the area of façade exposed to the harsh rays of early morning or late afternoon sunlight.  A large expanse of operable windows to the south and north help capture the predominate southerly spring and summer breezes.
  • Passive heating and cooling.  Properly placed and sized operable windows are just the start of an effective passive heating/cooling strategy.  The double height space encourages convective airflow in both active and passive conditioning scenarios.  South glazing with properly sized overhangs allows the sun’s rays to penetrate deeper into the space during the winter, giving direct solar heat gain.  The shaded south court with light-colored gravel ground cover pre-cools breezes before they enter the building.  Operable shutters on the exposed east façade can be oriented to either shade from or capture morning sunlight, depending on the season.  After the sun has risen further into the sky by mid-morning, the shutters are oriented for views across the river.
  • Daylighting.  North-facing roof monitors and high ceilings give an even, pleasant lighting level across the space similar to what one would find in many artists’ studios.  External light shelves along the south façade and light-colored gravel ground cover at the south court help throw more light deeper into the space.  When daylighting levels are insufficient, indirect lighting would automatically activate, bouncing artificial light off of the same ceiling surfaces used to disperse the clerestory lighting.
  • Renewable energy production.  An extensive roof mounted photovoltaic array coupled with battery storage allows the best utilization of this technology.  If any surplus energy should be produced, it could be returned to the grid through net metering.  Evacuated solar tubes on the south façade generate hot water for the radiant floor heating system and provide year-round domestic hot water.
  • Energy- and water-use efficiency.  Just as each façade of a building differs in its orientation and exposure, the glass in each façade must be carefully chosen to best function under these parameters.  Several different types of glass would be employed to custom tailor the building envelope to its microclimate.  Fresh air intakes are located on the cooler north side of the building, and earth tubes further cool the supply air before it even arrives at the conditioning system.  A geothermal heat pump, one of the most efficient types of small commercial conditioning systems, then completes the job of treating the forced air prior to introduction into the building.  Low-flow toilets and waterless urinals feed into a “Living Machine” on-site water treatment system, eliminating the need for sewer connections.  A rainwater catchment and greywater reuse system further reduces the request for potable water to just that required to feed the water fountain and the shower.
  • Green construction practices.  Construction waste management on the jobsite, combined with extensive prefabrication of elements and a modular design based on the four-foot multiple of typical building products reduces wasted material to a minimum.  Efficient structural design based on combining wood and steel framing members utilizes the most appropriate material for a given function.  Minimal excavation and regrading of the site limits erosion and doesn’t interfere with natural drainage patterns.
  • Recycled/recyclable and re-utilized materials.  High volume flyash concrete; reclaimed/recycled and certified timber products; high-recycled-content steel; and resin/wood fiber exterior cladding panels which both contain recycled material and are themselves recyclable are just some of the environmentally responsible building materials available for use in the education center.
  • Environmentally friendly materials, products and practices.  A reduced consumption elevator which does away with toxic hydraulic fluid; the use of paints, sealants, wood products which are low in or devoid of VOCs, formaldehyde and other noxious chemicals; elimination of CFC and HCFC refrigerant systems; bio-degradable housekeeping products; and employment policies which promote the use of bicycles or alternative transportation all contribute to the environmental aspects of the education center long after construction has been completed.