Environmental Nature Center and Preschool

Nov. 18, 2023

When you’ve already had success with a product, the tendency is to use it again. That is at least part of the reason LPA, Inc., Irvine, California, chose to specify Solarban® 70 Atlantica® glass by Vitro Architectural Glass for a new addition to the award-winning Environmental Nature Center and Preschool (ENC) in Newport Beach, California. 

The LEED® Platinum Net Zero building, which also is pursuing Living Building Challenge (LBC) petal certification, incorporates operable and clerestory windows fabricated with Solarban® 70 Atlantica® glass to help meet the stringent daylighting, energy and occupant comfort requirements demanded by both certification standards. 

“Performance was a primary concern [in specifying the glass],” said Rick D’Amato, FAIA, LEED AP, design director, workplace principal, LPA, Inc. “[We] generated an energy model to justify the design, which was utilized for California’s Title 24 compliance and for LEED and Living Building Challenge certification.” 

With its exceptional solar control, blocking nearly 80% of the sun’s heat energy while letting in high levels of daylighting, Solarban® 70 Atlantica® glass helps reduce the school’s Energy Use Intensity (EUI) by more than 100% compared to the national average for preschool/daycare building types. 

In addition to the operable windows, the building’s low energy footprint is further supported by large sliding doors, also made with Solarban® 70 Atlantica® glass, which capitalizes on Southern California’s mild climate, enabling natural ventilation year round. A 32-kW rooftop photovoltaic array provides 105% of the net energy for the preschool’s electrical needs. 

Having specified and installed Solarban® 70 glass with emerald-green Atlantica® glass for the center’s original building in 2008, LPA chose the same glass configuration to match its new 10,300-square-foot, three classroom facility. 

“The original ENC achieved LEED Platinum certification, so we were challenged to repeat this achievement and surpass it with the new project,” added D’Amato. “The glass helps with building’s NZE (net-zero energy) pursuit through the efficiency and orientation for daylighting and occupant views.” 

The original ENC was the first building project in Orange County to be LEED certified at the Platinum level. Since opening that year, the 8,500-square-foot-facility has continually returned more energy to the local electricity grid than it uses. 

Together with natural ventilation, daylighting and low-energy ceiling fans, building form and orientation also help eliminate the need for mechanical cooling. Situated in courtyard clusters, the buildings at ENC incorporate deep roof overhangs to create large areas of outdoor shading, which combine with high-performance Solarban® 70 Atlantica® glass to protect them from direct heat gain.

When the buildings need to be heated, energy-efficient radiant flooring systems are available for activation. 

The siting of ENC also discourages transportation by carbon-emitting cars and buses. Served by a nature walk that cuts across three city blocks, the center connects directly to other local schools, as well as churches, community centers and parks, inviting its 53,000 annual visitors to explore the facility and its surroundings by foot. 

When it earns Living Building certification, ENC will become one of the first projects in Southern California to achieve such an exceptional level of distinction. In the meantime, the center is continuing to fulfill the critical mission for which it was founded, which is to “inspire all generations to protect the natural world by serving as our community’s foremost authority on ecological responsibility, sustainable practices and environmental education.”

To learn more about Solarban® 70 glass, visit vitroglazings.com or call 1-855-VTRO-GLS (887-6457).

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