As reported by the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

As the 33 aging portable classrooms in the Live Oak School District, Calif., reach their lifespan in coming years, the new buildings in their place will be "green" from the bottom up. The first such project is under way next to Green Acres Elementary School on Bostwick Lane and is believed to be the first all-green school facility in the county. A 2,400-square-foot building to house two classrooms and some offices for the Green Acres after-school program features the latest in environmentally-friendly construction. Features include a light-colored curved roof, solar panel tubes for light, natural ventilation, sustainably-farmed lumber, a corrugated metal ceiling and paints and other materials that don't emit toxic chemicals.

The district's goal is to use small amounts of energy and provide kids a healthy place to play and learn. "This building will be off the grid as much as possible," said architect Ralph le Roux of the San Jose firm Madi Group. "We're trying not to use any artificial lights." Construction costs totaled $520,000, which the district will pay for with a state loan for child development and county redevelopment funds.

The Live Oak district made a commitment to constructing sustainable buildings in November 2008 when it passed a resolution to meet environmentally-friendly design criteria for all future facilities. District leaders signed on with Collaborative for High Performance Schools, a San Francisco-based certification group that helps schools statewide design and build facilities that are energy and resource efficient. "The school board felt it needed to step up to the plate with taxpayer dollars and be environmentally-friendly," said Keith Houchen, the district's director of maintenance.

Several school districts are incorporating green components, such as solar panels. County Office of Education officials say they're in the process of converting the alternative school Watsonville Community School on Green Valley Road into a green building, and their headquarters on Encinal Street in Santa Cruz is slated to have solar panels installed. "Every building we build we will look at making 100 percent green from now on," county Superintendent Michael Watkins said. "We hope to recoup the cost over the life of the project."

The Live Oak facility was constructed in seven modules — three for the building and four for the roof — in a Sacramento factory and delivered to the area and installed with a giant crane last week. District officials say they expect everything to be assembled by Aug. 2. Tierra Pacifica, the Live Oak charter school, will also get a new green classroom, less than 1,000 square feet in size, in the next couple of weeks to replace an old portable. That project will cost the district about $160,000.