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Green Effort (CHPS)

Green Environmentally Sensitive Schools California High Performance Schools (CHPS)

Environmental Goals

During the early planning phases of the Bond Program, it became clear that the Menlo Park City School District desired to commit to a position regarding the design and construction of new facilities as related to “green” construction.  The issue is important to the Community and of particular concern to the District in its desire to be responsible for both good design and the environment.  The staff researched different ways to develop environmental guidelines for the Bond Program.  Various existing programs such as LEEDS, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), and other environmental guidelines were investigated.

The District Facility Committee recommended that the adoption of CHPS Guidelines, as they were specifically developed for California schools.  The CHPS program takes a holistic approach in providing direct benefits to students and staff through good design and construction practices.  The approach allows flexibility for the District to choose specific areas of concentration in which to earn the points required to qualify as a CHPS School.  The District also believes that by adopting standardized environmental guidelines it will ensure that minimum established District standards are met while providing the opportunity to exceed the minimum standards if in the best interest of the District.  Another benefit of the CHPS program is that it will not create a complicated and costly certification process.  As part of the State Proposition ID Bond, the State allocated approximately $100 million for “green” schools.  Additional information about the CHPS program can be found at

The District has set goals to design and construct schools that meet or exceed the minimum CHPS requirements.  Below you will find information on the various areas and components that the District is incorporating into the Modernization and New Construction of the Schools.


The Collaborative for High Performing Schools

Presentation of MPCSD Board of Education by CHPS

Resolution adopted by the MPCSD Board of Education to Follow CHPS Guidelines

Sustainable Site

Joint-Use Projects:

The District’s new Teacher Education Resource Center is a Joint-Use project with the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation.  Joint-Use projects help conserve common resources and maximize facility usage.  A partnership of this nature helps many of the District’s critical programs.  The District also extends to the Community use of its other facilities such as gyms, libraries, and playground spaces for after school programs.  The District has a Joint-Use agreement with the City of Menlo Park on the use of its playground facilities at Hillview and Oak Knoll. Reduced Building Footprint:

In order to maximize green space at the campuses, the District has designed new two-story classroom facilities at Encinal, Oak Knoll, and Hillview.  Additional green space is beneficial to the environment and provides additional play area for the children.


In order to encourage bicycle and pedestrian traffic as an alternative to driving, the District has designed bicycle parking locations to accommodate each school’s needs.  In addition, the District has promoted the use of sidewalks and paths along each school zone which are safe for bikes and pedestrians.  Throughout the District, the schools will minimize the amount of space allocated to parking by not exceeding the CHPS guideline of three spaces per classroom.  5% of the spaces will be allocated to carpools or vanpools.

Stormwater Management:

At all school sites, the contractors will be required to implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) to limit the amount of water, soils, and other contaminants that enter the local drainage system.  At Encinal, the District has designed a drainage system which channels the stormwater from the site into a chambered underground system which then filters the water back into the groundwater system and allows for release into the local drainage system after the storm surge.  This benefits the environment by decreasing the load on our local drainage system and by recharging the local groundwater system.

Outdoor Surfaces


The District is designing landscaping improvements throughout the schools which will include the planting of trees, shrubs, and plants. The new trees will add shade and help filter the air.  The landscaped areas will also assist in reducing heat islands and absorbing rainwater. In addition, well landscaped areas will become an enhancement to the school and community.  At various locations where the school needs hard surfaces such as courtyards and parking lots, the District will be looking at installing pervious material to limit stormwater runoff.

Cool Roofs:

The District will use “cool roofs” where possible to reduce heat islands.  Cools roofs help reduce the temperature on both the exterior and interior by reflecting heat from the sun, instead of absorbing it.

Outdoor Lighting:

The District plans on using outdoor lighting systems that will limit light pollution.  By using smart lighting placements and design, the District will be able to minimize impacts off-site and contribution to sky glow.  The lighting system will be designed to be energy efficient and smart (i.e. automatically turning on when dark and turning off at a programmed time).

Schools as Learning Tools:

An important component to a high performance school is conveying information to the students about the environmentally sustainable design by making the schools' facilities and environmental features a part of the learning experience. Displays will be placed at each school that will provide information to the students and community about the green components of the school.

Water Conservation

Outdoor systems:  A water budget will be created for irrigation of landscaping and ornamentation to prevent excessive water use. Rain sensors have been installed at Encinal to turn off sprinklers after measurable rain.

Reduction of Potable Water Usage: The District plans to reduce potable water use by selecting fixtures that limit water consumption.  The District will equip bathroom facilities with faucet sensors to limit waste.  Ultra low flush or dual flush toilets to decrease water consumption are being researched.


Energy Conservation

The District’s energy systems are being designed to reduce total net energy consumption by 10% or more as compared to the Title 24 2005 baseline.  This will lower energy costs for the District and will help the environment by decreasing overall energy consumption.  Through these efforts, the District will leave a smaller carbon footprint and use less of our limited natural resources.  The energy reduction efforts will be achieved using the following methods:

Lighting Systems: 

Energy efficient light fixtures, occupancy sensors, and controlled lighting systems are some of the features that will be incorporated in the schools’ design.

Window System:

Window systems will be dual glazed, low-e, tinted, and have thermally broken frames to limit heat gain or loss.  Windows will be operable to allow better ventilation.

Building Envelope:

Buildings will have exterior wall and roof insulation to limit heat gain or loss.

Ventilation Design:

Buildings will be designed with operable windows and mechanical systems that will provide fresh outside air.  Ceiling fans will be installed in the classrooms to facilitate air circulation.  The fans will help push warm air down in the winter and pull cool air up in the summer.  Better ventilation will decrease the need for air conditioning and provide a more comfortable interior environment.

Energy Management Systems: 

Depending on the project scope, the District may install energy management systems that will monitor and manage the energy consumption of lighting, equipment, HVAC, and centralized hot water systems.

HVAC Systems and Controls:

The District will install smart and flexible HVAC controls that will allow users to set heating/cooling comfort levels and limit energy waste during non-occupied times.

Renewable Energy Options:

The District will investigate the use of solar energy on some of its larger building projects.  The District has designed the orientation and the roof surface of the buildings to be compatible with the future installation of solar panels, if current funds are inadequate.

Commissioning and Training:

An important component of a successful project and in energy saving measures is to ensure that the various systems (lighting, controls, HVAC, etc.) have been installed according to the intended design.  The District will verify that the systems have been installed properly and that the users and Maintenance and Operations can properly use, operate, and maintain the facility for maximum effectiveness.



The District is designing into the plans dedicated collection areas for recyclable materials, such as cardboard, glass, aluminum, paper, plastics, and landscape clippings.

Construction Waste Management: 

The District is requiring contractors to recycle or salvage construction materials during the course of the projects.  This relates to both new construction and modernization work.  The District will be monitoring the contractors’ performance regarding this matter.  This requirement will help reduce impact on landfills and encourage reuse of materials.

Sustainable Materials:  

One area of focus for the District is the use of sustainable materials.  By using sustainable materials, the District will be encouraging responsible use of ecological resources and balance in the environment.

Recycled Content Materials in District projects:

Sustainable or Rapidly Renewable Materials in District projects

  • Carpet
  • Ceiling Tiles
  • Tack Board
  • Insulation
  • Cabinetry and Casework
  • Base Rock
  • Playground Surfaces
  • Sports Flooring
  • Rebar
  • Structural Steel
  • Light Gage Metal Framing
  • Various Wood Products
  • Flooring
  • Certified Wood Products used in building construction

Indoor Environmental Quality


To enhance the performance of students and provide a comfortable learning environment, the District is designing its new facilities to maximize natural lighting in classrooms and work spaces.  The District is also introducing skylights in locations where windows may not be available to bring in natural light.


Lighting systems are being designed to provide the appropriate level of light for classrooms and work spaces.  Studies have shown that student and employee performance increases with better lighting systems.

View Windows: 

Studies have shown that view windows increase performance for students and employees who work in areas for extended periods of time.  The schools spaces will be designed to maximize view space from the new facilities.

Electric lighting: 

The electric lighting systems have been designed to provide flexible lighting to classrooms and spaces depending on usage, and lights will be adjustable for audio-visual vs. teaching mode.

Indoor Air Quality:

Providing clean air is an important component for healthy and productive students and employees.  To achieve better indoor air quality, the District is designing and specifying the following low emitting products in its projects:

Natural Ventilation:  

Classrooms and office spaces will be designed with operable windows.  Ceiling fans will be installed in classrooms to better circulate fresh air and to facilitate temperature control.


The mechanical systems will be designed with a filtration system on the fresh air intake.  These systems will also use ducted returns to prevent dust and other issues associated with plenum returns.  CO2 sensors may be installed in larger rooms.  These sensors are designed to automatically start the HVAC system if CO2 levels rise above a certain level.


The District is designing classrooms that are acoustically quiet in order to facilitate increased learning and communication between teachers and students.  This is being done with the design of quiet HVAC systems, dual glazed windows to keep exterior noise out, and acoustical treatments on walls and ceilings.

Thermal Comfort:  

Classrooms and office spaces are being designed to improve the thermal comfort of the occupants.  This will be accomplished with a variety of measures, including individual temperature controls and operable windows in classrooms and office spaces.

  • Adhesives
  • Carpets
  • Flooring
  • Paints
  • Insulation
  • Ceiling Tiles
  • Cabinetry
  • Roller shade
  • Furniture

Recognition for District's Commitment to "Green" Schools​​​​​​​

On September 27, 2007, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) presented the Menlo Park City School District with a recognition award for being 1 of 22 Districts state-wide that has passed a District Resolution for Sustainability and the Design and Construction of High Performance Schools that meet or exceed the CHPS environmental standards.

The recognition award was accepted by Governing Board Member Laura Rich and Facility Program Manager Ahmad Sheikholeslami in San Francisco during the annual "Greentools" Conference. By adopting the CHPS Standards, the District is committed to the design of high performance schools that are "healthy, comfortable, well lit, and contain the amenities needed for a quality education" while being environmentally sensitive and energy and resource efficient.

Construction of the Preschool/ Occupational Therapy Center

Construction of the Preschool/Occupational Therapy Center to serve our special needs students will be the first new building constructed under the District's Bond Program and our first "green" building which meets the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Guidelines.
The building features energy efficient operable windows, an energy efficient lighting system with motion sensors, and an energy efficient heating and cooling system. The building includes a cool metal roof, high recycled-content materials, wood products harvested from sustainable forests, and low-emitting materials.

CHPS diagram