Whenever I tell people about Sprout Space, Perkins+Will’s new concept for modular classrooms, the reaction is overwhelmingly positive. If you are involved in education at all or have ever had a child attend classes in a traditional trailer, then you know first-hand how important this issue is.
As for marketing Sprout Space, we have recently been speaking with representatives from charter schools. They love the concept because they can start a school with a few classroom buildings and then add more as the school grows and space is needed. Also, for Charter Schools that may have multiple locations, our buildings have the ability to be moved which gives the school even more flexibility for their growing facilities.
For example, Chattahoochee Hills Charter School, located in Palmetto, Georgia, was immediately attracted to Sprout Space classrooms because of the unique design and speed to build, relative to a stick-built school, and it meets their high standards for sustainability. “We are creating a special pre-K through 8th grade school that focuses on experiential learning through an environmental lens,” said Steve Nygren, one of the founders of Serenbe and CHCS. “We feel that Sprout Space classrooms are unique in that they are able to complement our academic goals while meeting the tight budget constraints of a charter school.”
We are seeing a paradigm shift in public school facilities toward healthier and more energy efficient buildings as well. As parents and school districts are becoming more aware of the many positive effects that green and healthy schools are having on their children, they are beginning to mandate these high-performance buildings. Perkins+Will developed Sprout Space because we feel that temporary or semi-permanent buildings should not be the exception.
It’s a big step from the initial concept and design to construction of the actual product, but we are well on our way. Our partner for the construction of the classrooms is Triumph Modular, chosen because they are a trailblazer in the industry and committed to the green construction process. The classrooms are being fabricated in North Carolina by Mark Line Industries. All parts and materials for the first Sprout Space classrooms are being shipped to their factory in North Carolina, where a classroom can be constructed in just six to eight days in a controlled environment, so there is very little waste and no issues with mold.
Sprout Space is also unique in that it is the first high-performance and healthy modular classroom that will be distributed nationwide. We have assembled the highest quality team of fabricators from around the country to deliver our classrooms anywhere they are needed in the country.
Of course, everyone wants to know how much it costs to build one. A Sprout Space classroom’s initial cost is roughly double that of a traditional trailer, but we are not comparing apples to apples. Sprout Space classrooms have a longer life span, are up to 100 percent more energy efficient and have a higher residual value. They will maintain their value longer because they are designed and built to a higher, permanent building standard. Also, Sprout Space has been designed to meet LEED™ and CHPS™ certification standards.
A Sprout Space classroom can be installed for around $150 a square foot, which is comparable to what a permanent building costs in the Southeast. In other parts of the country, such as California or the Northeast, where building costs are in the mid $200 a square foot, Sprout Space is much less expensive than traditional construction.
Many more people will be able to experience a Sprout Space classroom for themselves when one is installed on the lawn at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC in late August. The U.S. Green Building Council, Center for Green Schools had the idea of hosting a Green Schools Exhibit to help in the national campaign for building green schools.
Chase Rynd, the Executive Director of the museum, loved the idea and thought Sprout Space would be a great way to highlight green buildings throughout the country by actually putting a building on the lawn where people will be free to wander through it. The classroom will be installed right at the beginning of the school year and be on display for an entire year. If you’re in DC next year, be sure to stop by and see it.
It’s hard to argue with anything that leads to facilitating learning in a healthy environment and Perkins+Will is proud to be a part of the green schools movement. We have to agree with Glenn Cook, Editor-in-Chief of the American School Board Journal, who said, “The green schools movement is the biggest thing to happen to education since the introduction of technology to the classroom.”