Sonoma Academy, a private high school, received a prestigious architectural award in New York City for its new Guild and Commons (GAC) building which is a Zero Net Energy and LEED Platinum facility. The award was one of the top 10 in the nation given by the American Institute of Architects for environmentally designed buildings.

The Janet Durgin Guild and Commons building opened in January 2018 and serves as a dining facility, teaching kitchen, maker space and student services center.

The independent high school serves nearly 320 students from throughout Sonoma County and is located in southeast Santa Rosa.

The Guild and Commons building is powered by a large array of solar panels and utilizes a gray water system for site irrigation and a living roof. Soil from the local site was used to manufacture rammed earth blocks, using half the cement need for conventional blocks. Geothermal technology is used for heating and cooling.

The building is named for Janet Durgin the Head of School and the AIA award was received at the New York ceremony by school trustee Rick Theis and building architect Pauline Souza of the WRNS Studio. 

“It is easy to be enamored with all the high-tech systems that make the GAC a leading-edge environmental accomplishment, but we don’t want to forget the great design work necessary to make it a reality,” said Durgin. “Thoughtful design enabled us to use free natural resources like fresh air and natural light, and these elements make a huge difference in our teachers’ ability to teach and our students’ ability to learn. It is an altogether amazing place.”

-Rollie Atkinson 

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