Editor's note: The Greensite column this month looks at the winning Project of the Year in the LEED/Sustainability category.

View more details and photos on all Project of the Year entires and winners.

Del Norte High School, San Diego

A “smart” new high school exceeds California's mandated energy efficiency standards by 25%. The elaborately designed, 217,000-square-foot Del Norte High School was created under the Collaborative for High Performance Schools program, which provides students with energy- and resource-efficient environments.

The school's design includes a well-insulated building envelope, a sophisticated central chiller plant, vast use of masonry, a digital energy management system that remotely monitors energy performance of lighting and mechanical systems, and solar roof panels that heat water for the swimming pool.

Concrete masonry units (CMUs) offer thermal mass and will save the school money by reducing temperature swings and peak energy loads. CMUs also allowed designers to add texture with split face block, colors with 16x16 glazed blocks, and striking design elements, such as mitered gym walls.

The design team, construction manager, and subcontractors used the Building Information Modeling (BIM) system, which helped address conflicts in the design documents quickly and efficiently. BIM saved money by raising issues before they became problems, and by reducing potential change orders. The project was completed three months ahead of schedule and almost $2 million dollars under budget.