Open for the community
King Street Elementary was designed for performance and occupant comfort. The school consists of 21 classrooms and use-specific areas, including a music room, a performing arts room, a library, a gymnasium, student services, administration offices and a cafeteria. The classrooms are organized around age groupings, which form smaller schools within the school. This approach creates a tight-knit community in the school, but its design was also optimized for the wider community. Many areas, such as the gym, cafeteria, music room, stage and library, were designed to be used by the wider community after-hours.
The community also benefits from the efforts the design team put into qualifying for LEED v4 Sustainable Sites credits. Built on a former brownfield site where a garage once stood, the project helped to remediate the land by removing lead-contaminated soils. Further efforts were made to restore the natural areas and provide diversity and habitat for local species. For the LEED Protect or Restore Habitat credit, the project team was able to confirm that 90.96 per cent of the existing green field area was protected from any disturbance and that 41 per cent of the previously disturbed site area was restored.
The site also includes a bus loading zone, parent dropoff zone, and staff and visitor parking designed with safety in mind. To encourage active lifestyles, the site also includes pedestrian and cyclist sidewalks and pathways, bicycle racks, a multi-sport playfield, an outdoor classroom, and a play area for playground equipment.
Designed for learning
Another primary driver for the design – and the pursuit of LEED v4 – was the ability to take advantage of credits that would directly impact student learning and teacher job satisfaction. Research backs up the value of elements covered under the LEED v4 Indoor Environmental Quality credits – including air quality, thermal comfort, daylighting, acoustics and quality views – which all have a direct impact on the people occupying the space.
Specific aspects of indoor air quality (such as the amount of CO2, volatile organic compounds [VOCs], particulates, and humidity in the air) have demonstrable impacts on student learning and human health more generally.1 2
In fact, a 2015 study of occupant performance in “green” versus “conventional” buildings found that participants’ cognitive function scores were significantly improved in green environments compared with conventional office spaces. After just one day in a green building, cognitive functions were 61 per cent higher, and information usage 172 per cent higher. By day two, those factors increased to 101 per cent and 299 per cent.3