By Eric Carbonnier, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB, Senior Environmental Analyst
Water conservation is on everyone’s minds these days as we are all feeling the impact of this historic drought in California. As a firm, HMC Architects is passionately committed to environmental sustainability. To this end, we partner with our clients to create innovative solutions and to identify new sources of funding to help school districts meet their educational goals. As part of this ongoing effort, I am proud to announce that HMC Architects / HMC School Advisors spearheaded two successful grant proposals for Montebello Unified and Perris Elementary, securing a total of $1.9 million in state funding for the districts. The California State Water Resources Control Board awarded $30,320,000 as part of the Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools (DROPS) to twenty-nine school districts throughout the state. Perris Elementary School District was awarded $982,138 to support stormwater and water conservation strategies at the new Clearwater Elementary school and Montebello Unified School District was awarded $991,575 for the Schurr High School track and field renovations.
Perris Elementary School District – Clearwater Elementary
The grant proposal that HMC orchestrated for this new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) school, located in Riverside County, promotes stormwater capture strategies by mirroring a regenerative process to restore, renew, and revitalize local water sheds. The sustainable master site plan is comprised of multiple low impact development (LID) strategies including bioretention, bioswales, porous surfaces, and above grade cisterns supplying water for raised garden beds. The stormwater strategies are expected to improve groundwater revitalization through enhanced infiltration, reduced runoff volume and stormwater pollutants. Each LID is integrated into the curriculum to promote environmental literacy to the new generation of environmental stewards.
One of the goal’s of the grant is to create a vibrant collaboration among the California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC), Inland Empire Water Keeper, and Wild California and the District in order to provide teachers and students with access to high quality environmental education resources and experiences. The California Conservation Corps (CCC) will assist with the building and installation of the various stormwater strategies to promote sustainable job skills training in young adults.
Tina Daigneault, Chief Business Officer of Perris Elementary School District, describes the impact of the grant award:
The DROPS grant opportunity came at just the right time. During the planning and design phases, it was evident that the Governing Board, Superintendent, staff and community were very interested in incorporating as many “green” technologies as possible on the Clearwater campus. The initial design included cisterns, a retention basin and outdoor learning environments. When the Governor announced the DROPS program in January 2014, it fit perfectly with the water conservation initiatives that we wanted to incorporate. It also allowed us to push further in the design to include even more strategies.
Montebello Unified School District – Schurr High School Track and Field Renovations
This grant focuses on stormwater and artificial surfaced area cool-down water capture. Captured runoff will be treated, stored in underground cisterns, and reused in subsurface irrigation for campus landscaping and playfields. Rain gardens are sized to maximize groundwater recharging. Collectively these initiatives will reduce the school’s water footprint and help restore groundwater conditions.
The proposal imagines a partnership between Schurr High School and Cal Poly Pomona’s Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies and involves a collaboration for the planning, design, implementation, research, monitoring, and assessment of the stormwater strategies. The goal of the collaboration is to create a District Stormwater Management Plan with emphasis on low impact development (LID) and Best Management Practices (BMP). The Montebello Department of Public Works will host Best Management Practices Workshops for students, parents, teachers, and the community.
George A. Upegui, Director of Facilities Development, Maintenance and Operations for Montebello Unified School District describes what this grant award means to his district:
We at the Montebello USD are very excited to be among the applicants selected for this outstanding conservation awareness opportunity and funding award. The District sees this is a unique opportunity in forming a pathway alliance between the students of the Sustainable Regenerative Studies Program to mentor the students of Schurr High School.
As architects and designers we have a responsibility in sustainable development through imaginative and inspiring thought leadership. HMC Architects’ commitment to continuously bring forth change in the way we think about how we preserve and regenerate our natural resources is instrumental to improving the places where we live, learn, work and play. These grant awards are recognition of HMC Architects’ dedication to positively impacting the environment through our partnerships with our clients.