Circleville Schools Eco-charette

At the beginning of each LEED project we undertake, we engage the entire project team in what we call an eco-charette. Many firms that facilitate eco-charettes for LEED projects merely run through the LEED scorecard and identify which LEED credits the project intends to pursue. For SHP, though, the charette is a chance for everyone from the architects, engineers, construction team and the building owner to come together and talk about the goals of the project and what sustainability strategies can be used on the project to accomplish these goals. Additionally, for us, the eco-charette is a means of educating the owner about the complexities of an integrated or integrative, as we like to call it, design process.  We talk about the LEED scorecard and the available credits, but always in the context of of goals and aspirations for the project and the cause and effect nature of an integrative design process. Last week, we held an eco-charette for three brand new schools that will share one site in Circleville Ohio. I wanted to share the agenda for this two-day charette on the blog as an example of how this eco-charette can become a more integral part of the beginning of the design process instead of just a kick-off to the LEED process.


1. Project Team Introductions

2. Introduction to Integrative Design, Sustainability and LEED

  • What is integrative design and why do we use it
  • What is sustainable design?
  • What is LEED

3. Project Overview (includes site analysis)

4. Goal Setting

  • Identifying the goals and expectations for the project (sustainability and non-sustainability focused)
  • Rate importance of identified goals

5. LEED identification phase

  • Distribution of blank scorecards
  • Overview of LEED process/terms
  • Credit by Credit discussion


1. Introduction to Working Groups

2. Shared Systems and Spaces

  1. Introduction (20 minutes)
  2. Break into Working Groups (30 minutes)
  • Centralized systems (HVAC, renewable energy, others)
  • Centralized services/spaces (Kitchen, Media Center, Theater, others)
  • Centralized/smart technology (laptops, servers, others)
  • Multi-purpose Spaces

Group Reports (40 minutes)

3. Site Strategies

  1. Introduction (20 minutes)
  2. Break into Working Groups (30 minutes)
  • Landscaping strategies (type of plants, campus image, landscaping zones, etc.)
  • Stormwater Management Strategies (bio swales, pervious paving, green roofs,
  • Site Maintenance (snow melt, natural vegetation, open area, others)
  • Outdoor event/learning spaces (public spaces, learning labs, commons, others)

Group Reports (40 minutes)

4. Building Form: Tom and Jeffrey

  1. Introduction (20 minutes)
  2. Break into Working Groups (30 minutes)
  • Roof Strategies (flat vs. pitched, etc.)
  • Building Orientation and Daylight
  • Building Adjacencies
  • Buidling/Site Connections

Group Reports (40 minutes)

5. Charette Wrap-Up/Next Steps

The first day format tends to be pretty similar between projects, however, the working groups on the second day are very project specific. You’ll notice that we had a strong focus on the site and shared spaces on day two of the Circleville charette, which was largely the result of locating three schools and one site. While asking the project team and building owners to devote two full days to a charette can be a challenge, we have always gotten very positive feedback at the end of the two days and all seem to agree afterward that it is time very well spent.


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