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Chavez, District Called ‘Beacon for the Nation’

Cesar Chavez Elementary School has earned another statewide award for its efficient, environmentally friendly design. Before an audience of students, staff and leaders from the state, county and community, Chavez was honored for meeting the Collaborative for High Performance Schools sustainable design criteria which protect the environment.

"Long Beach Unified School District truly is a beacon for urban school districts throughout the nation," said Darline Robles, superintendent of schools, Los Angeles County. "It really is great to have this facility exemplify good health and good practice."

Opened in 2004 as downtown Long Beach’s newest school, Chavez has now received eight awards for outstanding design and energy efficiency from construction experts and regulatory agencies. The latest honor recognizes expert integration of energy efficiency.

California’s State Architect David Thorman praised the district and its planners for Chavez’s innovative and cost-saving design.

"It’s a real accomplishment, and it shows leadership," Thorman said, noting that the school’s design saves water and electricity. "This school district is a leader in this direction. You are on the right track. You’ve done a job well, and I congratulate you," Thorman said.

The non-profit Collaborative for High Performance Schools was established in 2002 in response to California’s energy crisis. It is composed of the major state agencies involved with building public schools, including public utilities, designers and school facility planners.

Chavez earned the award for surpassing state energy efficiency requirements by more than 34 percent. Reductions in annual energy consumption at Chavez save nearly $30,000 compared to minimally compliant buildings.

The K-5 school, built in close cooperation with the City of Long Beach, includes an onsite health clinic and joint-use gymnasium.

A partnership with adjacent Cesar Chavez Park allows public use of the school’s gymnasium on weekends and after school on weekdays, in exchange for sectioning off a portion of the park as a playground during school hours.

At Chavez, storm water diverted from roofs, roads and parking lots is filtered before being discharged into the storm drain systems. Other areas are sloped to channel storm water into planted areas. Drought tolerant landscaping and efficient irrigation reduce outdoor water consumption by 100,000 gallons per year compared to standard buildings.

Recycled materials were used throughout the school, which features post-consumer recycled ceiling tiles, toilet partitions, gypsum wallboard, aluminum window frames, curtain wall systems and rubberized playground. Builders also used materials that emitted fewer chemicals in ceiling tiles, wall insulation, flooring, wallboards and wall coverings.

Lighting systems at Chavez make efficient use of dimming devices, daylight sensors and occupancy sensors, while a highly efficient heating and cooling system reduces costs even further.

EXCELLENCE BY DESIGN—For its efficient and environmentally responsible features, Cesar Chavez Elementary School was honored by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools. Superintendent Chris Steinhauser and Principal Susan Rivard accepted the award recognizing the school’s design.