Energy Neutral Modular Classroom


This portable classroom is designed to provide an optimized educational environment for students and teachers while advancing sustainable design principles. The classroom maximally conserves as well as collects and generates natural resources, including electrical energy, daylight, wind energy, and rainwater. As well as being strong, efficient and conserving, natural forces and resources are highlighted and exposed throughout the structure, and all systems and performance criteria are monitored and broadcast to the web. The building acts as a learning tool for occupants, other schools and the general public.

Design Overview

The design optimizes photovoltaic roof surface orientation, naturally shaded north-facing daylight glazing, and modulated natural ventilation. All of these forces are balanced with the additional criteria of manufacturing and transport efficiency, functionality for classroom use, low operating costs and ease of maintenance. The manufacturing and delivery process, and the materials and products employed are all selected for minimum environmental impact and for maximum contribution to a healthy indoor environment. Wherever possible, materials are chosen to conserve resources, minimize initial and lifecycle maintenance costs, and to promote educational awareness of the natural environment and its relationship to comfortable and healthy living.

The design focuses on performance issues directly impacting the learning experience of its occupants and the environmental quality of its community151;thermal comfort, natural day lighting, indoor air quality, energy and resource conservation and generation.

Materials and Performance

The building is prefabricated in either two or three easily transportable modules, reducing initial cost and energy, and facilitating ease of transport and reuse in the future, minimizing waste. A steel frame and steel and rigid foam sandwich panel floor and roof system minimize material use; maximize insulation and heat reflection; and deter pests and mold in the cavity-free structure. A simple, double wall metal cladding, along with metal roofing shaded by solar panels above a 3148; ventilated airspace, creates a ventilated double skin greatly reducing heat gain. All glazing is operable and north facing and/or shaded to prevent direct sunlight, and to optimize natural ventilation and comfortable airflow. Interior surfaces are low VOC products. Exposed beams are FSC certified parallams, with exposed structural steel tracing primary structural forces. Interior walls are naturally finished recycled rice straw panels.

Day lighting analysis indicates that excellent work light levels are achieved throughout the typical school day in most locations without electric lighting. Thermal comfort analysis indicates the classroom will be comfortable in most high heat climates without air conditioning, although an efficient mechanical air conditioning system is planned as an option for school sites where air quality, or noise conditions preclude natural ventilation.


Project Type


91-740 Papipi Road, Ewa Beach, 96706,