Building on the success of the current ENC building as the first LEED Platinum certified building in Orange County

“The ENC is Orange County’s most important center for education of our youth in sustainable practices and the reasons for nurturing our environment. BRAVO!!”
– 2014 Eco Awards Judge USGBC Orange County Chapter

“The site design and building worked seamlessly and a great deal of thought was given to the creation of a learning environment where nature was the focus”
– AIAOCC Award Jury

“The ENC Nature Preschool is a model green building and nature based school, and we are enthusiastic about sharing our model with administrators from a multitude of educational institutions — from preschools to universities. We are passionate about empowering people to make sustainable choices: to strengthen their communities, and literally save the world.” – ENC Executive Director Bo Glover.

The Environmental Nature Center’s state-of-the-art ENC Nature Preschool, was awarded Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.  The award is the highest designation available to buildings that demonstrate energy efficiency and sustainability.

At 89 points, the ENC Nature Preschool building is included in the top 1% of LEED buildings in the world. The 10,380-square-foot facility is designed to deliver nature-based education for children ages 2 ½ to 5.

The American Institute of Architect’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) honored the Environmental Nature Center’s architectural firm, LPA, with a national COTE Top Ten award, the industry’s best-known sustainable design award, for the design of the Environmental Nature Center and ENC Nature Pre-School. The American Institute of Architects also awarded the two projects with the COTE Top Ten Plus designation, which recognizes projects that have already demonstrated “exemplary performance and generated post-occupancy lessons.”

The pre-school is also pursuing the Living Building Challenge’s Petal Certification, one of the first projects in the region to target both a high-level of sustainability and the healthy environment standard. The building operates at net-zero energy, meaning the total amount of energy used on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site.

Energy efficiency and water conservation are incorporated into every element of the facility. The butterfly-shaped roof opens the classrooms to natural light and supports a 32KW array of photovoltaic panels, which are designed to provide 105 percent of the net energy for the preschool’s electrical needs. Natural ventilation, low-energy ceiling fans and a radiant floor heating system eliminate the need for traditional HVAC systems. Rainwater is treated as an educational tool, with water channeled through rock basins and bioswales, and naturally treated by plant materials.

The preschool seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor learning environments to connect children to nature. The ENC Nature Preschool’s philosophy is embedded within its design. Curriculum is play-based. The design of the school encourages and nurtures the children’s inquiries and discoveries. Children’s ideas and investigations are easily implemented because their classrooms are open and flexible to allow indoor spaces to blend with the outdoors. Classrooms open to a central courtyard, which connects to the Nature Playscape. Daily hands-on experiences with nature instill a deep intuitive understanding of nature and the natural world.

The blending of the school’s indoor and outdoor spaces has been essential to the success of our educational philosophy, and the school’s green features are a huge draw to parents who want their children to learn in an environment with good indoor air quality, surrounded by non-toxic materials. Our students, our community and our world will benefit as the ENC continues to raise the bar in ecological responsibility, sustainable practices, and environmental education.

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