The lighting system for the building is primarily composed of natural daylight. Reflective light shelves, exterior hardscape, interior and exterior soffits, as well as finished ceiling materials were selected based on their ability to maximize the amount of natural daylight that could utilized within the building’s interior. This design effort directly reduced the amount and type of powered lighting required. Dimmable fluorescent strip lighting makes up the majority of the powered lighting within the building, which is manually controlled, when needed, by the Highlands Center staff.
Overall electrical considerations of the facility played an important part in the initial orientation and design of the building. Since 100% of the building’s power comes from the Learning Center’s 8Kw photovoltaic solar array, every energy drawing item within the building had to analyzed for its anticipated electrical draw. All lighting systems, equipment, appliances, and computers were considered, and then re-considered in light of their potential electrical needs.
Thermal comfort was addressed early on in the design process by taking full advantage of proper solar orientation. An east-west alignment for the building, along with windows precisely sized and placed for optimum passive solar gain contributed the structure’s highly-efficient energy performance. Operable clerestory windows stack functions by admitting solar gain and providing ventilation. The upper roof overhang provides shading for these windows during the summer, while vine covered trellises provide shading for the eye-level windows below.
The building envelope itself is insulated with an R-28 blown-in cellulose in the walls, and an R-34 spray-foam insulation in the roof. Thermal mass is provided by a 4” thick natural stone (interior) wall veneer, as well as in the 5” thick stained concrete floor slab, helping to keep the Learning Center’s indoor temperatures comfortable and stable throughout the year.