top of page

Living Lab and CES Design Features & Certifications

Use the links below to learn more about the design and certifications for both the Living Lab and Center for Environmental Studies (CES).

  1. Living Lab Geographical Features and Certification

  2. CES Design and Certifications

  3. CES Building Systems Dashboard


Living Lab Design and Certification

Living Lab Geographical Features

The Living Lab is at its core a native and drought tolerant landscape and wildlife habitat. In this four-acre garden one can find the following geographical features:

<img class="borders_wp alignleft lazyload" title="Living Lab Map" src="" alt="" width="250" /> – Edible Garden, Orchard, and Outdoor Kitchen – Aquatic ecosystem: Pond, Waterfall, and Rainwater catchment system – Propagation Centers: Greenhouses, Nurseries, and Lath Houses – Outdoor Gathering and Meditative Areas – Trail Systems – Composting Facility – Pollinator Gardens – Chicken Coop and Rabbit Hutch – Click here to download map in PDF version

Living Lab Certification

To learn more about these features, take a virtual tour in this video:

Educational signage is currently being developed that will be placed throughout the Living Lab and near the CES to highlight those features of the garden and landscaping that demonstrate these Bay-Friendly practices. Top of Page


CES Design and Certification

CES Design and Key Players

Siegel & Strain Architects Head Architects on the CES Project: Principal Susi Marzuloa and Associate Karen Richards Following an intensive search covering the greater Bay Area, eight architectural firms were invited to present proposals for the Center for Environmental Studies (CES). Upon review of their proposals, visits to their building sites, interviews and a vetting process, the selection committee unanimously chose Siegel & Strain Architects of Emeryville as the design team for the CES. Widely recognized as pioneers in ecologically sustainable design, their firm has a particularly impressive track record, winning more than sixty design awards since the early 1990s for projects that range from institutional and historic, to housing and residential. Under the leadership of Principal Susi Marzuola and Project Architect extraordinaire Associate Karen Richards, Siegel & Strain Architects aimed to create a Center for Environmental Studies that is functional, beautiful and well-loved, because cherished buildings are the ones that are cared for and ultimately sustainable. From big picture to every detail, they sought to eliminate or minimize the impacts of constructing and operating the CES building. Siegel & Strain applied what they have learned from past projects, and for this particular project incorporated the following into their approach:

  1. Collaborative Design with the School and Living Lab Leadership, the Design Team and the General Contractor Pankow Builders, and most important O’Dowd students;

  2. Regional & Site Specific Design and Climate-Based Design relating the project specifically to this particular place in the world on the Bishop O’Dowd High School campus in the East Bay Oakland Hills;

  3. Water and Energy Conservation in and around the building through use of renewable energy and rainwater capture;

  4. Green Materials specifications for natural, non-toxic, renewable and recycled building and finish materials;

  5. Design of Flexible Spaces for loose fit, multiple uses, reuse and long life.

Construction: Pankow BLUE CES Construction Leaders: Senior Project Manager Jim Coyle, Construction Project Manager Marielle Price, and Superintendent William Norriad (first six months of the project)

Landscape Architects: McArdle Design Inc.

CES LEED Certification Overview

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), is a U.S. Green Building Council program that transforms the way we think about how our buildings and communities are designed, constructed, maintained and operated across the globe. At its core, LEED is about making buildings healthier and safer for occupants and the planet. LEED’s leadership comes at a crucial time, as currently buildings are responsible for over 40% of worldwide energy flow and material use, and conventional buildings have been identified as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, which contributes to climate change (LEED, 2014). Buildings can also be hazardous to health, as conventional buildings are full of indoor air pollutants such as, dust mites, pollen, mold, radon, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and chemical fumes from paints, furniture, cleaners, etc. According to the EPA, people on average spend 85-90% of their time indoors, where air pollution is two to five times (sometimes up to 100x) more polluted than the worst outside air. Unfortunately, this indoor air pollution contributes to lung disease, respiratory tract infections, asthma, and cancers (2014).

The CES and LEED Certification

Bishop O’Dowd remains at the forefront of the sustainability movement in education, as only two percent of schools (500 have been awarded and 1,700 are registered) have achieved LEED certification. O’Dowd’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES) aims to achieve LEED’s highest recognition, Platinum Certification. This means that the design and construction process are held to the highest of standards, lowering the impact (aka footprint) on the planet, and providing a toxic-free learning environment for students. Below are some of LEED certification feature examples, (note that many features have elements that contribute to being more sustainable in multiple categories) or take a virtual tour of the features below. Additionally, you can check out how the systems are performing by checking out the CES Building Systems Dashboard.

LEED Energy Efficiency and Indoor Environmental Quality Examples

LEED Water System Examples The basis of rainwater catchment systems is to reroute stormwater into storage systems, vegetation, and permeable areas instead of the storm sewer. When not collected or slowed down, stormwater runoff is a major cause of water pollution, and erosion and flooding.

  1. Bioswales are channels that are vegetated, mulched, or xeriscaped (drought tolerant plants). The main CES bioswale is located at the base of the hill to best capture runoff. These channels are more sustainable as they eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation, and treat storm water by filtering, slowing, and using the water.

  2. The Rain Chain is a great educational tool as it makes our water retention system more visible, showing how stormwater runs off the roof and drains into a permeable collection area that flows into the Living Lab’s bioswale system.

  3. The CES Rain Garden (also known as bioretention or bioinfiltration cells) is a shallow, vegetated basins that collect and absorb runoff from rooftop, sidewalk, and street. Rain gardens are helpful because they mimic larger hydrologic systems slowing the movement of water, distributing into plants and the ground, and treating the water by stripping out pollutants.

  4. Permeable Pavers are interlocking recycled concrete slabs that let water infiltrate (enter the ground), or be treated and/or stored. These can be found throughout the CES terrace and patio area.

  1. Classroom faucets provide 1.5 gallons per minute. They also use an Insta-Hot system that provide hot water on demand, meaning that fewer gallons of water are wasted waiting to draw hot water from a traditional tank and there is little energy waste on standby hot water.

  2. Bathroom faucets are extremely low-flow as they use infrared faucet sensors and valves to control flow to 0.35 gmp. The energy needed to power these sensors comes from a photovoltaic (PV) panel on the faucet that stores energy from a blend of artificial and natural light in the bathroom.

Materials and Resources LEED Feature Examples In order to be LEED certifiable, CES products needed to meet some of the following criteria: be durable (long lasting), renewable, efficient, energy efficient in creation, recycled/able, non-toxic or low VOC, local, and improve the performance of the building (energy, water, etc.)

Top of Page

bottom of page