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Alder Creek Middle School

Site characteristics or focus during construction or remodel: 

This site was selected, because it was one of the few sites in Truckee that could meet the California Department of Education’s requirements for location and size, is near the majority of the student population, and affordable.

During pre design meetings, the desire to have a lot of daylight, natural ventilation, reducing maintenance costs and simplifying snow removal were high priorities. The building is set on an east-west axis to allow better control of the sunlight entering the building. We have provided maximum affordable day lighting to improve the learning environment within the building and reduce light energy costs.

The two-story construction reduces the amount of area disturbed for construction of the facility. It also reduces the roof area, which is a high maintenance item for the district as well as source of heat gain into the building. We have designed a white “cool” roof to further reduce heat gain.

The primary student and staff entry and the outdoors PE area are south facing, which takes advantage of the sun for melting snow and ice.

To reduce the visual impact of the facility on the scenic corridor, the cafeteria is bermed into the earth. The berm serves as a thermal buffer on the north and west side. 

Construction Type: 

Two story concrete block with a steel frame. The concrete block provides a good long-term low maintenance exterior, and due to its mass, it provides a time lag for heat and cold to impact the interior. The interior walls are either exposed block, high impact sheet rock, or plastic laminate covered sheet rock. All of these materials were used to minimize damage from vandalism and reduce typical wear and tear on the building.

Main Heating System: 

The facility has a 300-ton ground source heat pump system. There are 48 water source heat pumps through out the campus. Each classroom has its own heat pump to allow for limited individual control of the space. Because we cannot have glycol in the system, there is a backup boiler that will inject hot water into the system if the loop temperature approaches freezing.

Conservation Features:

  • Triple-pane low-e glazing will reduce thermal heat gain on the south facing windows and the reduce transfer of cold to the interior from the north facing windows.
  • Horizontal window blinds integrated between the panes of glass will act as light shelves to bounce sunlight deeper into the classrooms.
  • In the classrooms the first row of lights near the windows have photo sensors to keep them off provided there is adequate daylight. There is a delay on the sensors to keep passing clouds from activating the lights.
  • The classrooms, gym, cafeteria and administration area have T-5 high output lamps and energy efficient electronic ballasts. The halls, common areas and storage spaces have 2nd generation T-8 lamps and electronic ballasts. Motion sensors control each room; the entire campus is tied into the district’s energy management system. A skylight above the classroom stair well and two openings in the second floor will provide day lighting into the classroom hallways. Curtain walls on the north and south will provide day lighting into the common areas. The lighting system is designed 36% more efficient than what is required by Title 24.
  • The water source heat pumps are ultra high efficiency models.
  • Low flow fixtures in classrooms; rest rooms and kitchen will reduce domestic water consumption.
  • Planting of native materials on a drip system and a synthetic turf soccer field will reduce water consumption.
  • Operable windows in each classroom will reduce the need for cooling.
  • The contractor was required to recycle 50% by weight of the construction waste.
  • The carpeting, linoleum, ceiling tiles, toilet partitions, walk off mats, tackable wallboard, and rubber infill in the athletic field are made from recycled products.
  • Additional valves have been added to the ground source heating system, which may allow us to preheat domestic water in the future with geothermal. 

Evaluation/ design considerations: 

  • The translucent windows in the north walls of the gym and cafeteria eliminate sky and tree top views that could have improved these spaces.
  • The floors in the corridors were changed from stained concrete to polished concrete to reduce maintenance costs.
  • Auto flush valves, auto faucets and auto hand dryers were added to the restrooms to reduce water use, maintenance and resources. 

Owner: Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Size: 87,000 square feet

Designer: Lionakis Beaumont Design Group

Date of Construction: 2002-2004

Builder: Phase I Site work — Granite Construction, Phase 2 Building — Clark & Sullivan

Tags: Passive Solar
Water Conservation
Ground Source Heat Pump
Recycled Materials

Mail can be sent to: SiGBA P.O. Box 4245 Truckee, CA 96160

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