22-0204 LBC Outside Views through a Greenhouse

QUESTION

The project, a K-8 school in South-West Chicago, is on track for full Living Building Challenge Certification. More specifically, the project covers nearly all Imperative 09 & 10 requirements. The project meets ASHRAE 62 standards, prohibits smoking in/around the building, is developing a Healthy Indoor Environment Plan, provides direct exhaust for necessary spaces, is on track to be RESET certified, and complies with CDPH Standard Method. The building also utilizes operable windows, offers flexible options for varied sensory experiences, and allows users to influence their local airflow/temperature through direct controls.

We are very close to achieving 95% access to views and daylight and have come up with a unique strategy for two specific rooms that the team would like ILFI’s input on:

The design team is proposing that two learning spaces (215 K-1 Learning Zone & 251 Middle School Learning Zone) use window walls to frame views through a greenhouse to the exterior. The two learning classrooms account for 3.4% of the regularly occupied spaces. Although groups of students occupy these two spaces regularly, no individual would “regularly” occupy these spaces because students rotate between many different spaces in the building throughout the day.

The greenhouse space is a tall, south-facing room enclosed by a large curtainwall with a biophilic mullion pattern mimicking a stand of trees.  This greenhouse is intended to be a messy, nature-oriented experimentation area. Throughout the year, students will grow a variety of plants and generally run a variety of experiments that require abundant natural light, space, and ventilation but also protection from the elements.  Students occupying the learning spaces in question would be able to see vegetation in the greenhouse as well as exteriors trees and landscape through the biophilic curtainwall.

We believe this solution of including these two rooms in our Views/ Daylighting Strategy will provide programmatically appropriate visual relief, reduced eye strain, and a connection to nature as the imperative intends all while allowing a compact building envelope that minimizes energy use. Can these learning spaces contribute to the total area providing access to outside views?

ANSWER

Consistent with the Views clarification in the Health + Happiness handbook under I 09 Healthy Interior Environment, the distance to views may exceed the maximum distance to daylight where the views are unobstructed through a wall that meets the definition of a window wall. In relation to that guidance, the windows looking onto the greenhouse—which has an exterior wall made entirely of floor-to-ceiling glass—may be considered exterior, and the greenhouse is not considered an obstruction. The project may count the areas within each classroom that have views through the greenhouse to the outside, towards the required 95% of regularly occupied space having access to views to outside.

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