Manteca’s New Environmental Studies Center Earns LEED Gold

MANTECA, Calif. — The Gen7 Regional Environmental Studies Center (RESC) in the Manteca Unified School District (MUSD) was recently awarded LEED Gold certification for its modular, zero net energy design. The school district partnered with locally based American Modular Systems to build the center, which is now the first K-12 supporting facility in California’s Central Valley to earn LEED Gold.
“We wanted to raise the bar by creating a multi-use learning center that is both energy independent and environmentally responsible, providing a model for future learning spaces within our district and demonstrating our commitment to best-in-class environments that benefit our community, staff and students,” said Jason Messer, MUSD Superintendent, in a statement.
The RESC offers Industrial Technology and Design coursework to high school juniors and seniors enrolled in the Manteca Unified Vocational Academy (MUVA), as well as community education programs that teach the public about green building techniques and technology, sustainable home improvement, gardening, energy and water conservation, air quality and innovation — all of which are reflected in the building’s design and performance.
The facility was constructed from renewable and recycled materials and features a 150-year-old reclaimed barn wood exterior, reported the USGBC’s Northern California Chapter Green Schools Committee. The zero net energy design combines high-efficiency systems with a 10kW roof-mounted PV system to generate more energy than is required to power the building over the course of the school year.
Everything from the solar array to individual receptacle loads are connected via the Gen7 web-based energy monitoring system, which tracks the building’s energy consumption on a very precise level and manages it in real-time to help achieve optimal performance. A real-time energy dashboard also allows students and visitors to monitor energy production and consumption through interactive, wall-mounted iPads. Since the center’s opening in September 2013, it has reduced peak power demand by more than 50 percent and produced more energy than it requires to operate.
Because the RESC was a prefabricated building, it was built 60 percent faster for 30 percent less than a conventional building. Achieving LEED Gold certification cost less than 1 percent in construction costs, which will payback five-fold in operational savings over the building’s lifespan.
Aaron Bowers, construction/energy technician for the school district, said he believes the center’s smart design will be a teaching tool that will help the Central Valley community become more aware of green building. Custom signs and cutaways are located throughout the facility, educating visitors on the latest green technologies, such as daylight harvesting, solar power and water reclamation, as well as sustainable materials like FSC-certified woods and recycled denim insulation.
“The Manteca RESC was designed with a clear mission: to bridge the gap between awareness and action,” Bowers said in a statement. “We’re providing a healthy environment for learning, while promoting renewable, clean energy as a sustainable solution for the future.”