State Architect Launches Initiative to Save Water and Energy at Public Schools

HGA Combines Innovative Design with Energy Efficiency in DSA’s 7x7x7 Design Energy Water Initiative
Division of the State Architect launches sustainability initiative aimed at greening California’s school system​

​LOS ANGELES/SACRAMENTO—Feb. 24, 2016— HGA Architects and Engineers (HGA), an integrated architecture, engineering and planning firm, has been selected to participate in the 7x7x7 Design Energy Water initiative created by the Division of the State Architect (DSA). 7x7x7 engaged seven noted architectural firms to develop seven case studies in sustainable school design, for seven representative school campuses. This aspirational initiative aims to change the way people think about energy conservation and find innovative ways to improve the built environment while simultaneously greening California’s aging school facilities with design concepts that will reduce energy and water consumption at campuses across California.

Conceptual case studies were completed by each architecture firm for their assigned public school and were presented to California legislators, local professionals, education leaders and the office of California Gov. Jerry Brown, at 7x7x7’s Call to Action event on Feb. 23 in Sacramento at the Crest Theatre. The goal of 7x7x7 is to show the need for not only incorporating sustainability into design and construction of new school buildings, but also leveraging the thousands of existing school buildings to make them more water and energy efficient.

HGA, the only firm matched with a higher education facility, was tasked with presenting a “Big Idea” to reduce the energy and water usage from Los Angeles Trade Technical College’s (LATTC) science building. HGA’s bold approach begins with zero energy rather than simply applying incremental reductions to move towards zero. This net positive approach focused on key performance targets including human experience, energy carbon, water, waste, materials and best value. To create a sustainable future for LATTC, HGA recommended multiple solutions that cultivate a positive learning experience, produce more energy than consumed, completely eliminate carbon emissions and significantly reduce water use.

Originally built in the 1970s, LATTC was a complex assignment because of the lack of natural lighting, mass amounts of water usage and low energy efficiency. HGA’s recommendations went well beyond simple low-flow water systems and challenged the way people think about water usage holistically, including incorporating drought-resistant landscaping. If all of the recommended water solutions were implemented, LATTC could save two million gallons of water per year, which is approximately equal to the amount of drinking water needed for 7,300 people for an entire year. The firm also recommended solar panels on top of the parking canopies, improving the efficiency of the HVAC system, and design strategies that allow additional natural lighting to flow into the building to promote wellness and improve learning. By implementing all of the study’s recommendations, HGA estimated that LATTC could save between $80,000 – $200,000 in annual energy costs.

“We need to change the way we’re thinking in order to change what we’re doing,” said Patrick Thibaudeau, vice president of HGA’s sustainable design practice. “Our vision for LATTC encompasses small changes schools across the country can implement, which will not only improve efficiency overall, but will advance students’ learning, wellness and productivity.”

7x7x7 aligns with California Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change and sustainability goals, aimed at doubling energy efficiency by 2030, as outlined in Executive Order B-18-12, Proposition 39 and the governor’s inaugural speech in 2015. Since energy usage in buildings accounts for the second largest contribution to California’s greenhouse gas emissions, all new state buildings and major renovations from 2025 on must be constructed as net zero energy facilities. Energy and water efficiency improvements will not only save the state money, but will boost California’s economy due to increased investment in green technology companies and green jobs.

“With over 400 higher education institutions in California, the savings from these recommended changes can create an exponential impact on energy and water use,” said Kaveh Amirdelfan, principal on the project. “As initially envisioned, such an impact can positively influence student life and pedagogy throughout the state, and also can be implemented throughout various regions in the nation.”

​Along with Thibaudeau and Amirdelfan, HGA’s project team included Satoshi Teshima, associate vice president and designer; Miguel Simental, designer; Kevin Lynn and Brendon Huss, mechanical engineers; and Jane Catoldo and Patricia Lear from Lynn Capouya, Inc. Landscape Architects. The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) partnered with DSA to enact 7x7x7.

To learn more about the initiative, including the other participating teams and their associated schools, please visit

About HGA
HGA is an integrated architecture, engineering and planning firm that helps prepare its clients for the future. With offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, California; Minneapolis and Rochester, Minnesota; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Washington DC, the nationally recognized firm has developed expertise in the healthcare, corporate, government, arts, community, education, and science/technology industries since 1953. HGA’s culture for interdisciplinary collaboration, knowledge sharing and design investiga­tion enables its clients to achieve success with responsive, innovative and sustainable design. Visit or follow the firm on Facebook or Twitter.

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