Sprout Space

Sprout Space™ is a healthy, sustainable, and flexible modular 21st Century classroom. The project required products that not only had low energy consumption, but would also create a source of sustainable energy. In the case of the modular unit, the builder was able to install the HVAC system in two days time, saving costs on labor. The final result was an energy efficient HVAC system that was also extremely quiet, a must for the owner's vision of a modular classroom.

The classroom of the future may be here sooner than we suspect if the minds behind Sprout Space™ continue to innovate and change the way we approach sustainable design. Sprout Space™ is a healthy, sustainable, and flexible modular 21st Century classroom.

Designed by architecture firm Perkins+Will, Sprout Space™ will serve as a prototype for a larger initiative to create a net-positive modular classroom. It will allow educational institutions to provide better, cleaner and more efficient learning environments for their students.

Modular building represents an excellent innovation in the realm of educational facilities. There are over 180,000 modular classrooms in the country, a large majority of which are substandard and in need of renovation. Sprout Space™ began when Allen Post, the project’s manager, decided he wanted to get Perkins+Will involved in modular designs.

Perkins+Will looked to Michael to help them achieve their vision of a net-zero modular building. The project needed products that not only had low energy consumption, but would also create a source of sustainable energy. After evaluating the project, Michael decided on two important LG products: the Multi V Mini for HVAC and Mono X Module for solar.

The Multi-V Mini is designed to provide the owner the benefits of VRF (variable refrigerant flow) - lower operational costs per year, minimal or no duct work to purchase or install, superior comfort with room zoning while maintaining architectural integrity. The system provides builders a flexible solution with independent comfort zoning, which takes maximum advantage of LG’s inverter technology. The system also requires minimal installation as it can adapt to any current setup a building offers and requires fewer materials than other systems. In the case of the modular unit, Michael was able to install the HVAC system in two days time, saving costs on labor. The final result was an energy efficient HVAC system that was also extremely quiet, a must for Post’s vision of a modular classroom.

“We wanted it to be quiet but also functional,” said Post. “We have plans to not only test energy levels, but also the acoustics of the unit. As a classroom for the future, we wanted to provide the best possible learning environment for students.”

The solar modules have their own unique story. Michael knew that a solar solution was necessary to get the modular unit to net-zero efficiency but also had to make it flexible enough that a unit could be put together quickly. Michael’s solution was a proprietary solar panel system for modular buildings including a factory installed racking system, properly installed and grounded invertors, and 16 LG Mono X solar modules equated to a 4KW power plant. This system was developed and designed by Modular Air and is marketed as the “Greenergy 1000.” This unique setup allowed the unit to be shipped with solar already installed, a first for the industry. The system is so simple that installers only need to have the ability to install plug and play extensions between each “Greenergy 1000” power pack. Once the system is installed with commercial power it will selfboot and begin to produce free power back to the grid. This aggressive sizing of the solar installation should provide more than 90% of the annual power required by the classroom.

“The solar installation for this unit is really quick and efficient,” said Post. “When Michael told me he was able to install the solar before shipping out the unit, I was thrilled. The applications of this will make our vision of providing energy efficient modular solutions more affordable to schools and therefore a reality.”

Sprout Space™ opened on March 3, 2013, at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. The exhibit will remain on display at the Museum until January 5, 2014. Post and Michael intend to continue the move toward newer, better modular units to create the best learning environments