Playa Vista Elementary incorporates a number of sustainable building measures including standard roof-mounted and building integrated bi-facial solar panels, a geothermal heat exchange system, and reclaimed water for landscaping and for flushing toilets.

Playa Vista Elementary School is a state-of-the-art platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified facility adjacent to the Ballona Wetlands. The K-5 elementary school is located in Playa Vista, a community in the Westside area of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) campus is the first LEED certified school. The school's design incorporates a rigorous educational program with a tight urban site, bold sustainability agenda, and demonstrable environmental engagement to encourage and inspire. Loyola Marymount overlooks the school and facilitated a relationship between the school and their Education Department. This project will be a teacher training site for their college students as well.

Designed by Osborn Architects, Playa Vista Elementary School exhibits a number of sustainability building measures. Standard rooftop mechanical material was eliminated in favor of water source heat pumps located in each classroom. This system is a natural fit with a geothermal heat exchange system, which leverages soil conductivity and over 30 miles of underground piping coils. The pipes shed heat into the ground on hot days and extract heat from the ground on cold days. The system uses the constant temperature of the earth to regulate indoor temperature which is much more efficient than standard temperature-control systems. It also includes high efficiency plumbing fixtures, and the use of reclaimed water for landscaping and for flushing toilets. The bifacial solar panels also serve as a rain cover for the external walkway. Clearing the roof of mechanical material allowed for maximum space for photovoltaic panels. The structure also maximizes natural ventilation and daylight for each classroom. Furthermore, the building defines exterior "learning landscape" zones: vegetable gardens, meeting areas, outdoor classrooms, and water zones.

See more information about Playa Vista Elementary School.

The geothermal system, which consists of an underground network of water-filled pipes, being installed at Playa Vista Elementary School. Entrance of the Playa Vista Elementary School library with a solar canopy. View of the integrated solar system at the Playa Vista Elementary School.

Photos courtesy of Edmund Barr Photography



  • The solar photovoltaic (PV) array totaling 256 kilowatts installed on the roof and canopies is designed to generate enough energy to cover up to 60 percent of the school's annual energy costs.
  • The energy provided by the solar PV array avoids greenhouse gas emissions comparable to 29,154 gallons of gasoline consumed per year.
  • Using reclaimed water for irrigation reduces the need to use drinkable water.

Key Developers and Partners

  • Osborn Architects
  • Los Angeles Unified School District

Type of Project

Green school


The school opened in August 2012.


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