The Wolken Education center was designed by Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper, principal architects, and Scott Clark, associate and straw bale construction expert, of the San Luis Sustainability Group, located near San Luis Obispo. This building is estimated to save 73.5 percent of the energy of a traditional building of its size, broken down as follows 9in KiloBtu/square foot).
|Average Building||Wolken Center|
The Wolken Education Center receives sun for a longer portion of the day than any other building at Hidden Villa, as it is not in the shadow cast by the hills or by big trees. In the planning process, the building’s orientation was selected to maximize total solar exposure. Compare this site to that of the Hostel located in a small, shady valley southeast of the Wolken Center.
The building is oriented towards the south to take full advantage of solar energy at this latitude (approximately 37’ 28” N and 122’ 7”W. Sunlight shines in to warm the building, especially the thermal mass in the floor and walls. High windows provide ample natural lighting.
Propane heaters provide back-up heat for the colder days of winter. The Sunfrost R16 is a super-efficient refrigerator, designed for photovoltaic applications; it uses one quarter of the energy of a conventional fridge. In most houses, refrigerators use the most electricity, since they are on all the time.
The fixtures in the bathroom use less water than standard fixtures. The building is plumbed to collect graywater from all fixtures except the toilet for landscape irrigation. The county has not yet granted permission to connect the system, however. The hot water in this building is heated by a solar water heater. We also have a propane water heater that will store and distribute the solar preheated water. Converting solar energy to heat is 40 percent efficient, while converting solar energy to electricity is 13 percent efficient.