National architecture and design publication Metropolis recently honored LPA’s design of the net zero, LEED Platinum Environmental Nature Center (ENC) Preschool in Newport Beach, California with a Planet Positive Award.
The Planet Positive Awards recognize the most creative projects and products from around the world that benefit people and the planet.
According to Metropolis, the winners “represent the highest achievements today in design that address climate change, ecosystem health, human health and equity.”
The ENC Preschool was recognized in the Western region in the civic/cultural category.
“We are honored to receive this award from Metropolis, one of the strongest advocates for promoting sustainability in our industry,” Rick D’Amato, Design Director at LPA, said. “Every aspect of ENC Preschool’s design was created with energy efficiency and nature-based education in mind.”
The Environmental Nature Center (ENC) Preschool seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor learning environments to provide children with an intuitive understanding of the natural world. Developed in collaboration with educators, the community and the existing Environmental Nature Center – the first LEED Platinum building in Orange County — energy efficiency and water conservation are baked into every element of the facility.
“It was extremely important for the design to mirror our sensibilities on sustainability and energy efficiency,” Bo Glover, executive director of the ENC, says. “Every space is designed to spark creativity, cooperative learning and imagination.”
The butterfly-shaped roof opens the classrooms to natural light and supports photovoltaic panels that are designed to provide 105 percent of the net energy for the preschool’s electrical needs. Rainwater is treated as an educational tool. Single-sloped roofs capture the water, which is channeled through rock basins to bioswales, where the water is naturally treated and clarified by plant materials before leaving the site to recharge aquifers. All of the plants across the ENC campus are native to California and do not require irrigation.
To take advantage of the coastal climate, the preschool is oriented to allow for natural ventilation and doesn’t use a conventional HVAC system, significantly reducing initial and long-term operating costs. Low-energy ceiling fans enhance air movement, and a radiant floor heating system provides low energy, mild heating, as needed.
The ENC Preschool has won a multitude of regional and national awards, including the American Institute of Architects’ 2020 COTE Top Ten Award – the industry’s highest award for sustainable design.