KMD Architects completes school using natural materials as a platform for an environmentally-conscious education
This elementary school science wing located in Seattle, Washington, was completed in January 2011. This urban project is one of the few in the world slated to meet the Living Building Challenge 2.0, which involves a highly-collaborative process. The project’s design and preconstruction services were performed pro-bono by the entire design team. The unique challenges of this level of sustainability require that all members of the team, including stakeholders and the city and county be involved in every decision from the outset.
The building envelope is a highly-insulated wood stud wall with environmentally safe insulation, SIPS roof panels and FSC-certified and regionally sourced wood for the entire project. Insulating glazing systems provide a low-u value and high transmittance of visible light to exceed LEED for Schools daylighting standards. The two types of roofs, metal to collect rainwater and the first moss mat roof on the west coast which will reduce runoff, have a variety of benefits. All of the building’s materials were chosen because of their low environmental impact from reduced toxins and recycled content, to the reduction in building energy demand they will provide. Traditional toxic materials such as PVC, CFC’s, flame retardants, phthalates and many others were omitted from the project.
The building collects rainwater and distributes it through an exposed river and a series of pipes in the classroom for educational purposes. The water is collected in separate potable and irrigation cisterns. From there, it can be treated through filters and ultraviolet light to potable standards. All grey water produced in the building will be treated on site through an interior green wall of tropical plants. Black water is handled through a composting toilet. No storm or waste water is piped to the city sewer. Outside, a raingarden handles stormwater and an ethnobotanical garden provides food and a variety of natural materials for a wide range of curriculum.