Über Green Prefab Portable Classrooms

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The portable classroom is just about as ubiquitous as the mobile home, so our ears perked when Toby Long, principal of Clever Homes and Toby Long Design, mentioned these first-generation, prefab, green portable classrooms.  Working with the Chartwell School in Seaside, California — itself the first LEED Platinum campus in the country — Toby Long Design designed, fabricated, and installed two relocatable classroom structures on the Chartwell campus.  Almost incredibly, the on-site work only took about four weeks. 

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The 960 square-foot structures were designed and constructed in accordance with the new 2009 Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Criteria for Relocatable Classroom, making them one the first to be certified using the criteria in the country.  Check out these green credentials:

  • 90% off-site, efficient construction;
  • 10' ceilings throughout;
  • Over 300 square feet of glazing for abundant natural light;
  • Operable clerestory windows and skylights for passive ventilation;
  • Complete use of FSC-certified lumber throughout;
  • Efficient radiant floor heating system;
  • Efficient composite windows from Andersen;
  • High recycled content gypsum board;
  • Use of no formaldehyde insulation;
  • Use of Cradle-to-Cradle carpeting;
  • Use of recycled rubber flooring;
  • Use of cement board siding and composite deck materials;
  • Use of no-VOC paints and coatings throughout;
  • CO2 sensors connected with the ventilation system;
  • Daylight and occupancy sensors for fluorescent lights;
  • Water efficient plumbing fixtures; and
  • Use of green electricity from the Chartwell photovoltaic system.

Portable classrooms are used for a couple reasons: they help schools accommodate population fluctuations and they're cheap.  Existing options may cost about $40-$50 per square feet, while building a new school or substantial addition may cost something like $250 to $300 per square feet, depending on where you're located. 

Clever Homes intends to provide a high-quality green prefab school classroom closer to the affordability of portables with a price of $75-$100 per square foot.  The difference, of course, can be attributed to designing and building these relocatable spaces with health and sustainability in mind.  Clever Homes is developing an entire line of classroom structures and is currently building an off-grid, self-sustaining classroom, which we'll try to showcase in the future. 

[+] The New High School Project.
[+] New Adventures in Education by Good Times Santa Cruz

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Photo credits: Toby Long Design and Clever Homes.


  • http://mportlandrealestate.com/ Portland Real Estate

    Awesome. This looks like a really nice school. We need to have our children learning in schools that they can be proud of, and that are healthy for the community. Well maintained schools that get invested into by the community have less vandalism problems too.

    -Tyler

  • Anonymous

    Great post I found it extremely interesting. I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to pass it on to all of my friends and co-workers. If you get a chance please check out my site at Real Estate Rochester MN … Thanks again

  • http://permacultureproperties.com/ Evan Little

    Sophomore year of high school (10 years ago) I had an English assignment where each student was instructed to pick something about how a school runs that they would change. I got a classroom filled with blank stares and yawns during my 15 minute rant about how schools should be comprised of mostly modular buildings that can be moved to and from different locations as a community decreases or expands. Makes a hell of a lot of sense. Maintenance could be handled on a larger scale with so many schools using the same buildings and mechanical systems. Makes a whole lot of sense!

    • Evan Big

       Stop living in the past Evan, High School is over.

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