R3A and ZGF designed the two-story building to surround the natural wetlands of the site. The building includes classrooms, conference rooms, computer labs, seminar rooms, industrial workshops, automotive training workshop, full service dining, child-care center, and wellness center.

Completion Date



Cranberry Township, PA


78,000 sf.


LEEDv 2.1 NC Silver


American School and University Silver Citation Interiors Showcase
Masters Builders Association New Construction Award Finalist

The Regional Learning Alliance was committed to making this building a showcase for sustainable design practices and technologies from the start.  The very economic model that fostered the concept of the alliance is a first anywhere in the country.  It aligns education, business and government in a collaborative relationship, to encourage economic growth and sustainability and to create a strong business and education infrastructure while producing a better-prepared workforce.  Key green design features and solutions could be summarized as follows:

  • The configuration and placement of the building was intended to limit the impact of new development on the extensively wooded site and on the natural wetlands.  The two wings of the L-shaped building embrace the wetlands and also separate them from the parking area.  Consequently, both wings are exposed to natural views and maximum daylight.
  • The project team is working with local organizations in an effort to provide public transportation to the project site.  Bicycle racks and shower rooms will be provided to encourage alternative means of transportation.
  • Xeriscape-type landscaping, designed to preserve water (eliminating the need for an irrigation system) and a no-mow policy, further reinforce a natural approach to site maintenance.  Site landscaping includes perennial plantings for a seasonal color and interest, and trees placed to shade both parking and outdoor seating areas.
  • The roof is a white EnergyStar compliant roof to avoid the heat-island effect created with dark roofs.
  • Site lighting is shielded to avoid light pollution onto adjacent sites and into the sky.
  • In order to reduce water use, ultra low-flow toilets and waterless urinals were utilized.
  • Mechanical and electrical systems were chosen for their ability to maximize energy efficiency, and initial commissioning and energy audits are proving that these systems far exceed the requirements of ASHRAE 90.1.
  • In order to avoid ozone depletion, all refrigeration and fire suppression systems use non-HCFC, non-Halon refrigerants.
  • The building owner has entered into an agreement to purchase green power.
  • Recycled materials used in the building structure included steel and concrete.  In addition, low maintenance exterior building materials such as brick masonry, kynar-coated metal panels and frames, and aluminum for exposed metal finishes were employed whenever possible.
  • Finishes including gypsum wall board, acoustic ceiling tiles, carpet and furniture also incorporated large percentages of recycled materials and materials harvested or manufactured regionally.
  • The project team engaged a construction waste management company to ensure that construction waste is diverted from landfills, and by the end of the project, over 90% of the construction waste was recycled.
  • Carbon Dioxide monitoring is included and construction IAQ management has been incorporated to maintain indoor air quality.
  • Low-emitting materials have been used for adhesives, sealants, paints, carpet and composite wood materials.  Entryway systems have been incorporated to provide indoor chemical and pollutant source control.
  • The project is being used by one of the members of the university alliance, as a case study for students enrolled in its Masters program in Sustainable Design.

A key objective of the project team was to measure actual building performance metrics and operational costs in order to determine the Return on Investment of key Sustainable Design features and technologies as measured against first cost.  Included within this binder is a summary sheet of green design strategies, associated costs and efficiencies, and ROI calculations.

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