The Outdoor Classroom at Prairie Ridge was built with “green” building technology, which focuses on making buildings healthy for both the environment and the people who work in them.
Our cistern stores rainwater that is collected from the roof of the Outdoor Classroom. This water is used for flushing the toilets inside the building and limits our use of local freshwater sources. This technology is called water harvesting.
A typical flush of the toilet uses 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) and older toilets use even more — about 3.5 gpf. The toilets in the Outdoor Classroom have two flush options, one for liquid wastes (0.8 gpf) and the other for solid wastes (1.6 gpf). Conserving a significant amount of water, these toilets can be installed in your own home, reducing your utility bill and your demand for a precious natural resource.
Parallel Strand Lumber, also known as Parallam or PSL, is made from a composite of many small trees, reducing the need to use wood from old growth forests that typically provide large timbers. The Outdoor Classroom uses Parallam, which minimizes our impact on older forests.
Utilizing a form of passive solar heating, the Outdoor Classroom’s south-facing overhang maximizes sunlight in the winter and shade in the summer. In addition, the building’s orientation takes advantage of the yearlong southwesterly breeze. These design features, in addition to many others, conserve energy that would typically be used for lighting, heating and air conditioning.
Instead of wood furniture, the tables in the Outdoor Classroom are made from wheat scraps. The concrete masonry of the foundation is 100% recycled material, eliminating a large amount of energy and water that would otherwise be needed. Using untreated scrap lumber as mulch, we reduced the need to use newly cut trees.
During the construction process at Prairie Ridge, we kept the earth disturbance to a minimum in order to control erosion. In addition, there are no impervious surfaces on the Outdoor Classroom; thus all the rainwater is collected, reducing soil erosion around and under the building.
Our solar panels provide electricity for the Outdoor Classroom and will supply our planned residential center. Taking energy straight from the sun, we eliminate the need to use energy from nonrenewable sources, reducing our impact on the environment.
For technical specifications for these features contact Frank Harmon Architect PA