Email Vesta
Blog Home Page

Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Salmon Creek Center Environmental Award

Green Building at its Best
Salmon Creek Environmental Center receives Highest Award

By Dennis Rosatti
Harmony Union School District will soon have an official plaque to show it has earned the highest possible award for our recently constructed Cafeteria / Auditorium / Environmental Education Center Building.

The Redwood Empire Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council will be presenting the prestigious LEED-Platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) award at the Falls Center on April 21.

“This award publicly recognizes our commitment to inspiring students and community to become responsible stewards of the environment, not just through education, but through the example of this environmentally green building,” said District Superintendent/Principal Dave Miller.

Environmental consciousness is a longstanding part of the Harmony community. The school District supports a place-based, environmental education curriculum, taking advantage of the four distinct habitats of redwood forest, wetlands, grasslands, and creek found on this rural, 50-acre campus in western Sonoma County. Rooftop solar panels installed several years ago provide a portion of its energy. Its student-run recycling/composting program keeps thousands of pounds of waste out of the landfill every year, and students help tend the school’s organic garden that provides much of the produce served every day with the school lunch program.
Now, the District’s newest building—the first LEED-Platinum certified building in the county—not only supports but also extends the school community’s commitment to sustainability in a myriad of ways.

The floors and walls of the Falls Center are all made from such recycled materials as hospital surgical gowns, wine cork tiles, and ground glass; a wind-fallen redwood from the campus provided lumber for wainscoting; energy efficient florescent fixtures and skylights provide lighting; low-flow bathroom and kitchen fixtures are all high-efficiency and water-conserving. A complex drainage system collects rooftop rainwater, funneling it into a catchment system to enhance the existing wetlands; and a “living” roof, planted with 12 species of drought tolerant plants, covers one section of the structure, helping “reduce storm-water runoff, improve building performance, conserve energy, and provide habitat for insects and birds,” according to Kevin Falkerson of SYMBIOS, the firm that designed and installed the roof. Together with the living roof, landscaping around the building will offer further opportunities for students to study native plants and their uses. “Talk about getting an education!” says Alexis Persinger, architect for the project. “These students are living in sustainable design every day.” Adds project coordinator Victoria Johnston, “Our vision was to build the first LEED-Platinum public school building in California, which took a tremendous amount of perseverance and determination. I’m thrilled we succeeded.”

The new green building provides a cafeteria, assembly space, office space, and a meeting room for use by the school district as well as the surrounding community. Every lunch period, from tables in the bright, naturally lit, passive solar cafeteria, students can look out a wall of windows across the playing fields to wilder fields and forest beyond. A large, eco-themed mosaic mural (designed and created by students last spring) gracing the foyer and bathrooms serves as a starting point for elementary grade research into local flora and fauna. The assembly hall, with its state-of-the-art media center, already has hosted several author visits, musical performances, and various community events, with monthly movie nights in the offing.

“Green building is a blossoming field of study with very promising career paths,” says Dennis Rosatti, HUSD board member and executive director of the non-profit organization Sonoma County Conservation Action. “The District is proud to be setting this good environmental example for our students, while providing a glimpse of what might be in store for them in the future.”

The award ceremony on Wednesday, April 21 will run from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, starting with a 20-minute documentary on the history of the building, followed by the presentation of the plaque. Food and drink will be provided, and tours of the building will be available. The cost is $10. Due to the size of the assembly hall, participants will be limited to 80 people. To reserve a seat or for more information, contact USGBC’s Redwood Empire Chapter at

Labels: , ,