Regional Environmental Studies Center

Making Environmental Education a Mission in Manteca

  • Project: New School Construction
  • Type: Zero Net Energy Academy and Community Center
  • Completion Date: September 2013
  • Green Rating: LEED® Gold Certified

Project Background

MUSD has long been a trailblazer in environmental education and stewardship. When the District decided to expand its teaching-by-example concept into a sustainable multi-use community center, the District turned to Manteca’s American Modular Systems to design and build a Gen7 Zero Net Energy facility that gives Central Valley students and residents free and open access to environmental education and resources. The state-of-the-art building uses roof-mounted 10kW PV panels, combined with energy-saving systems and technology, to produce enough electricity onsite to cover the center’s annual usage. Sustainable features integrate with an educational mission, schooling students and visitors on the building’s many green features and materials. Custom signs and cutaways are strategically sited throughout, and an energy dashboard allows energy consumption and production to be monitored through an interactive iPad.


Since the Regional Environmental Studies Center (RESC) will service both students and the community, its design needed to be adaptable, serving a range of age groups and needs, while promoting environmental stewardship to all. The RESC will offer coursework through the Manteca Unified Vocational Academy, as well as community education programs, both exploring a diversity of topics, including green building techniques and technology, sustainable home improvement, gardening, energy and water conservation, air quality and innovation—all to be reflected in the center’s LEED-ready design and performance.


To provide a healthy, highly sustainable and inspirational multipurpose learning, meeting and gathering space, designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and Zero Net Energy standards. The RESC is constructed from responsible materials with leading-edge green technology and features that can serve as a teaching tool for Manteca students, faculty and residents.


The design aesthetic blends sustainability and energy goals, providing a custom look and feel with recycled, low-emitting materials, FSC-certified woods, natural ventilation and extensive daylighting. To maximize energy efficiency and load reduction, energy models were used to optimize the building’s orientation, window placement and PV system positioning and tilt. The customized exterior features 150-year-old reclaimed oak barnwood siding, with a detached butterfly cool roof that was installed onsite. Inside, the light, airy flex-space is modern and fully automated, comfortably fitting a range of needs, from small student workgroups to large community presentations.