Modular, Green Classrooms

SALINAS, Calif. — A new middle school in the Santa Rita Union School District contains old blue jeans and other recycled materials as wall insulation. The recently completed Bolsa Knolls Middle School is the first school ever to utilize Gen7 modular classrooms, structures that are made from 100 percent recyclable materials, manufactured by American Modular Systems of Manteca, Calif.
Constructed in close to 60 days, the eco-friendly schoolrooms feature low- and zero-VOC interiors and a high amount of recycled and recyclable materials, which serve as sound insulation and minimize heating and cooling loss, as does an integrated concrete slab floor. Smart lighting fixtures with natural daylight harvesting, including Energy Star-rated tubular skylights, and energy-efficient HVAC systems ensure that each classroom exceeds the California Title 24 Energy Code by more than 30 percent. Each modular class is designed to be grid-neutral with the installation of rooftop photovoltaics.
“Because our Gen7 classrooms are modular, they can be installed and ready for students in as few as 90 days,” says Tony Sarich, vice president of operations for AMS.
With building starting on June 1 and finishing up in mid-August, the AMS custom-built six Gen7 modular classrooms were designed to meet and exceed the Collaborative for High Performance Schools criteria, an initiative to create environments that are healthy, comfortable, resource-efficient and easy to maintain. Bolsa Knolls will have the first modular classrooms in the nation to receive CHPS verification for a new school construction on an existing campus, according to AMS.
“Not only do green schools enjoy 20 percent higher test scores, fewer absences, lower healthcare costs and higher teacher retention, these eco-friendly, low-maintenance classrooms save money for the school districts — both in installation costs and energy savings — up to $100,000 per year in direct cost savings and long-term savings of more than 30 percent,” says Sarich.
The six Gen7 classrooms at Bolsa Knolls are the first part of a two-phase project. Eight additional Gen7 buildings and a boys and girls restroom facility are scheduled for delivery on the new campus late fall 2010 and will be ready for use when the students return from winter break.