ATEP, a “green” efficient school

The ATEP campus in Tustin, Calif. (Sean Lara/Lariat Staff)

Casie Nguyen

The Advanced Technology & Education Park is on a greener and more energy sufficient track to develop their campus in this new age.

Using the latest green technology, ATEP is working to stay current with solar orientation buildings, automatic light sensors, efficient florescent lighting, and new carpool parking spaces among many things to the rest of their 68- acre campus.

“Both students and staff love the environmental and energy efficient features and I think it helps them take pride in taking care of the campus,” said Tere Fluegeman marketing and public relations.

ATEP’s campus was built with LEED certification standards in mind.

Since 1998 the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, has been ran by the U.S Green Building Council. According to its website, objectives include, “Lower operating costs and increase asset value, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for occupants, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrate an owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.”

ATEP has abided to LEEDS standards in each and every way all around throughout the campus.

Since LEED’s first standard is to “reduces erosion, light pollution, heat island effect and construction-related pollution” ATEP is taking advantage of the natural sun more and rely less on artificial lighting. The buildings at ATEP were strategically positioned to maximize the light from the south while shading the buildings from the southern heat gain. The sunshade elements let in the light, but hold the heat away from the windows to prevent excessive heating and less air conditioning usage.

There are also operable windows to be used to facilitate Thermal Displacement Cooling naturally.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings use 39 percent of the energy and 74 percent of the electricity produced each year in the United States.

Indoor lighting sufficiency is also an important standard that must be met. All fluorescent lighting at ATEP will also use the current ballast and tube lighting technology which optimizes energy-to-light coefficients, which means more light, less energy. 

All buildings feature automatic light sensors help further energy conservation.  When the sunlight is bright enough to allow for the usual routines in the rooms, the sensor keep the lights off. 

Continuing on with their energy saving strategies, the classrooms at ATEP have green occupancy sensors. Instead of leaving the light on when a room is unoccupied, the lights at ATEP have their own motion sensors which sensor users and triggers on/off settings. This saves energy and electricity, as well as prolongs the bulb life.

The LEED Indoor Environmental Quality credit category encourages innovative ideas that can improve indoor air as well as providing access to natural daylight. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims that indoor air quality can sometimes be worse than outdoor quality.  ATEP addresses this claim by using exterior fixtures that do not emit light upwards, therefore reducing light pollution.

Recycling is preferred in the products that line the campus.  Steel sidings contain 97 percent recycled content and wherever carpet was needed, it was made of a “100 percent recyclable non chemical brand”.

The landscape surrounding ATEP is also undergoing green-friendly changes. As one of LEED’s standards, water efficiency is a top priority.  Drip irrigation using reclaimed water is used instead of purified water to water the plants. A Xeriscape and native plant palette were also used for landscaping. This lowers water consumption by absorbing more water so that more water is available for other water outlets. In addition, these new landscaping palates take less time and work to maintain which eliminates the constant need to mow and prim the landscape.

In addition, to cool down the overheated parking lot heat waves, planters were placed in the parking lot islands to assist with pavement heat reduction. 

LEED’s also mentions rewarding smarter transportation ideas in their website.  In accordance ATEP supports carpooling. There will be eight new parking spaces provided for carpools, vans and bikes. 

ATEP’s greener building project, all components were made in a factory environment where construction waste is minimized and metal pieces are recycled. Most of the building components were made of custom, pre-cut construction materials which minimizes raw contributions.

ATEP is currently working with their architects to expand the campus to 30 acres and incorporate as many environmental friendly LEED certification standards as possible.