As the first LEED Platinum community college building in the United States,
the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies is a place for students to learn
about environmental stewardship, sustainability, and energy and resource
management. The two-story, 23,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility
demonstrates the “climate responsive building concept” of integrating passive
solar design, building-integrated photovoltaics, and other energy-efficient
On the first floor there is a biodiversity lab, a biodiversity outdoor classroom, an energy exhibit hall, a small group learning space, a 90-seat lecture classroom and two 45-seat lecture classrooms. On the second floor there is an energy management lab, various study/tutorial areas, a second small
group learning space, a resource center, an astronomy observation lab, the
division and faculty offices and conference rooms. The building features a
two-story atrium clad with photovoltaic glazing.
The building’s structural system is a structural steel frame, with floor
construction consisting of concrete fill over composite steel deck, supported
by a combination of steel wide flange beams and open web steel joists. The
lateral force-resisting system features special concentric braced steel frames,
exposed as an armature of the architecture.