SOURCE: Ratcliff

September 16, 2009 15:05 ET

Windrush School and St. Francis Center: The Two Little Nonprofits That Could

Ratcliff Designs LEED® Platinum Classroom for Windrush School and LEED® Silver Multi-Service Structure for St. Francis Center

EMERYVILLE, CA--(Marketwire - September 16, 2009) - Windrush School, St. Francis Center, and the architectural firm Ratcliff are pleased to announce two recent LEED® ratings from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Windrush School is only the fourth school in the nation and the first building in the City of El Cerrito to achieve a LEED Platinum rating, which is indicative of the two-story classroom addition's highly energy-efficient structural design. St. Francis Center achieved a LEED Silver rating for La Casa, which houses the nonprofit's essential services for families in need in the Redwood City area.

At Windrush School, Sustainability is the Rule

Taking advantage of Windrush School's bayside location, Ratcliff incorporated into the building's design an insulated concrete building shell, naturally ventilated and cooled classrooms with radiant floor heat, and photovoltaic panels. These energy-efficient design features create projected annual energy savings and reduced CO2 emissions of 50% over a comparable structure. Windrush's innovative classroom building provides a high-performance and healthy learning environment for the K-8 student population and adds seven new classrooms, a library, and lobby for an adjacent gymnasium to the campus.

The new building offers an aesthetically inviting space for children and adults to learn sustainable design lessons. Teachers at the K-8 independent school integrate studies of the new classroom wing in their math, science, and humanities curriculum. The building's library is also used for community meetings and makes living green a tangible lesson for the entire City of El Cerrito.

St. Francis Center Provides Tangible Environmental Stewardship through Recycling Programs

La Casa earned innovation recognition from the USGBC for St. Francis Center's efficient recycling programs that divert tons of donated food and clothing items from landfills and place them in the hands of more than 3,000 individuals each month. A unique combination of programs, the three-story building was designed to make the most of every inch:

-- First floor: Clothing and food donation and distribution services; laundry and shower facility for the homeless; toy storage for Christmas and monthly giveaways; and administrative offices.

-- Second Floor: Holy Family School, a classroom for twelve students who are educated from Kindergarten through fifth grade; classrooms for adults to complete GED and ESL courses; and offices for the Women's Initiative, a program that assists lower-income women to escape poverty through business ownership.

-- Third floor: three low-income rental units for 14 residents.

Ratcliff's unique design for the 10,400-square-foot structure incorporates a wide range of environmentally responsible tenets, including using a building as a recycling center, providing green building education through signage and sustainable environment curriculum, inclusion of a storm water management bioswale, water-efficient landscaping, energy-efficient building design, and local/regional materials selection.


"Building green with a sense of purpose and consciousness underscores our commitment to Progressive Education, where students learn to become good citizens, engaged leaders, and community members who care about the planet and its people," said Ilana Kaufman, head of Windrush School. "Our Platinum LEED certification is an achievement to be celebrated and enjoyed not only by the Windrush community, but also by the City of El Cerrito, the Bay Area, and the independent school community."

"The health of La Casa is beneficial to the health of our clients and that is very important to us," said Sr. Christina Heltsley, EdD, St. Francis Center's executive director. "There is a temptation for nonprofits with capital projects to avoid the LEED rating system because it can be complex and expensive. If a small social services organization like St. Francis Center can do it, any nonprofit can. If nonprofits don't lead the way for the environment, who will?"

"Windrush School and St. Francis Center both show that nonprofits with nimble governance structures can work outside the box to accomplish laudable environmental achievements," said Brian Feagans, NCARB, LEED® AP, a Ratcliff project designer. "Both organizations teach their students that if you shoot for the stars, you truly can achieve your goals."


Headquartered in Emeryville, Calif., Ratcliff is dedicated to designing sustainable building solutions. The firm provides architecture, interior design, and planning services to academic, healthcare and civic clients throughout the Western United States, including the College Preparatory School in Oakland, Athenian School in Danville, Seven Hills School in Walnut Creek, and Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo. With a staff of 75 design professionals, Ratcliff is a recipient of the prestigious Firm of the Year award from the American Institute of Architects-California Council.

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