Gen7 Eco-friendly Classrooms Become Nation's First Modular Classrooms to Be CHPS Verified

The first-ever Gen7 green classrooms, installed at Bolsa Knolls Middle School in Salinas, Calif., have become the nation's first modular classrooms to receive Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Verified recognition for New School Construction. They are only the second school in California to successfully complete the CHPS Verified review process.

The Gen7's high performance features underwent a rigorous third-party review of compliance with the California CHPS Criteria school rating system, ensuring that the new school meets the highest green building standards for health, comfort and environmental sustainability. Designed and built to provide both a superior learning environment and a durable, cost-effective structure, Gen7 classrooms exceed standard building codes in energy use and indoor air quality, while substantially reducing operating and maintenance costs.

"The Gen7 classroom proves that a prefab structure can achieve the same desired high performance results as a conventional building," said Bill Orr, CHPS executive director. "This project is a major breakthrough for modular construction. The green design is exemplary, offering flexibility and resource efficiency while providing valuable long-term benefits for students, teachers, school districts and communities."

Though feature-rich, the 5,760-square-foot facility was designed and installed in a little over 60 days, adding six permanent classrooms to meet the needs of sixth- and seventh-graders. The Gen7s are constructed almost entirely of recycled and recyclable materials, low- and no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) interiors and learning-enhancing acoustical design and climate control. Environmentally friendly insulation in walls and roof reduce noise and minimize heating and cooling loss. Energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems combine thermal comfort with innovative smart lighting and daylight harvesting to make each classroom a model of energy efficiency, exceeding California Title 24 Energy Code by more than 30 percent.

In just six months, the Bolsa Knolls Gen7 classrooms have significantly reduced energy usage, while positively impacting health, student performance and teacher satisfaction. In post-occupancy surveys, teachers credit the natural light, whisper-quiet learning environment and improved air quality in increasing productivity and reducing illnesses that can cause missed school days.

Inspired by Gen7's performance, the Santa Rita Union School District has ordered eight additional Gen7 classrooms and an eco-friendly restroom facility, to be installed June 2011.

"Santa Rita opted to choose Gen7's modular classrooms because it wanted to save money but still get quality construction," said Trevor Miller, construction facilities consultant to the Santa Rita Union School District. "We've got to get the word out -- there are choices out there."

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