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High-Performance School of the Future Gets an “A”

November 01, 2008 |

The school of the future isn't just a dream; it's a reality that's available today. Exhibited in conjunction with Building Design+Construction magazine, Project FROG's “FROG Zero” classroom can be seen center stage at the 2008 U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.

Project FROG™, which stands for Flexible Response to Ongoing Growth, is a San Francisco-based company founded in 2006 with the mission of designing and manufacturing smart buildings – high-performance, green building systems for schools that are healthy, quick to deploy, affordable, sustainable and permanent.

“Our company may be young, but we've made tremendous leaps within the educational sector where schools are increasingly looking to us to help them add space that is sustainable and healthy,” says Nikki Tankursley, director of marketing for Project FROG. “Greenbuild is a venue where the most prestigious collection of green-minded people in the world come together, which made it the perfect event to launch our new product, FROG Zero.”

Greenbuild Expo marks the debut of FROG Zero, Project FROG's new zero-energy building that raises the bar for green classrooms. FROG Zero classrooms take full advantage of natural light, use nontoxic and recyclable materials and generate as much energy as they use. Greenbuild visitors will be the first to see one on display.

Touring the Future Now

The FROG Zero classroom incorporates the latest and greatest in eco-friendly sustainable features and products.

A raised plenum access floor holds the heating, cooling and electrical connections, which frees up the ceiling and walls for a column-free environment.Daylighting is optimized by windows that bring in abundant, yet controlled natural light, as well as a high-tech, indirect lighting system with occupancy sensors and daylighting controls.Made from predominantly recycled materials, the classroom has configurable window wall systems, tackable wall surfaces and plenty of whiteboards.No-VOC recycled carpet tiles and interiors improve indoor air quality.Photovoltaic roof panels generate the classroom's energy while the living roof helps with the building's temperature control.

The look of the building is bright, colorful, clean and high-tech, featuring large plasma television screens, laptop computers and monitors. On the soft-tech side, the room is dotted with comfortable, ergonomic seating. “The classroom has a lot of built-in technology and the layout is flexible, which allows teachers to easily reconfigure their tables and chairs,” says Tankursley.

A Sum of Its Parts

Project FROG's building systems are comprised of extremely high-quality, pre-engineered and premanufactured kits. Buildings can be purchased individually or connected to form a variety of campus configurations. Building sizes can range from a single 1,200-square-foot classroom to a 20,000-square-foot building or an entire school campus.

Better, Greener, Faster, Cheaper

Mark Miller, Project FROG founder and CEO, has long specialized in research-based design for the education sector. In his research, he found three key problems with traditional school construction:

A lack of emphasis placed on how students and teachers interact and respond to their environment, such as the building's daylighting, color, temperature, materials and spatial properties.Multi-year-long lead times to construct new schools, coupled with time and cost overruns.Construction methods that are extremely destructive to the environment.

Miller's vision for Project FROG was to provide highly advanced, sophisticated buildings that were capable of addressing these issues. In short, he wanted school buildings to be smart.

Success comes early

“Mark's vision captured the attention of people all over the world,” said Tankursley. In short order, Project FROG added two success stories to its portfolio: a child development center for the City College of San Francisco and a learning and technology center for the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School in Sonoma, Calif. The buildings in each location garnered positive feedback from all parties involved.

End-User Benefits

According to Tankursley, students' performance was enhanced due to increased daylighting, improved indoor air quality and better sightlines and acoustics, all of which support students' ability to learn. “When you reduce glare, you can see the teachers and the lessons on the walls better. Improved acoustics help the students to hear their teachers instructions more clearly.”

Teachers like the classroom because it is so flexible. Rooms can be reconfigured to different teaching patterns. “If a teacher wants to change the purpose of the classroom, there's little effort required to set up a science experiment one day and a class lecture the next,” Tankursley adds.

Teachers also appreciate the ability to customize and control the classroom's lighting and temperature with smart controls at a local level. Says Tankursley, “When thermal comfort is controlled locally in the room, the students are more comfortable and can focus on the task at hand.”

According to Tankursley, parents like FROG schools because they are constructed so quickly, enabling children to reap the benefits of the new, improved schools before they graduate. That's not typically the case where school upgrades can take so long they are often not completed until the attending child has moved on. Board members and administrators like FROG buildings for the same reason, and because all of the costs are known up front.

A Sign of Things to Come

FROG Zero, the School of the Future is a teaching tool with a lot of science going on within its own walls. Tankursley explains, “It demonstrates smart building, which is evident throughout the structure. FROG Zero, the School of the Future, is designed with green principles at its core. The building itself is a way to teach sustainability, environmental science and technology. FROG Zero exemplifies all that and more.”

The Project FROG classroom at Greenbuild demonstrates the best of green building technology. “We are very proud to introduce FROG Zero and this new building approach to the attendees of Greenbuild Expo and the world” said Tankursley.

The Project FROG team joined forces with Emotive Group to create a world-class racing school at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.

Project FROG provided a building solution that successfully met the project goals—an affordable, high-performance teaching facility to support and expand the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School and its driving skills programs.

“Our team was able to extend the excitement of the track to the classroom through the use of pre-engineered building systems,” says Mark Miller, founder and CEO for Project FROG.

“The FROG units allowed for a significantly reduced construction cycle, thus greatly reducing costs,” explains Miller. “The aesthetic and sensory attributes of the design embody a not-so-lightly veiled reference to racing and high-performance driving: metal, glass, motion, curves and color.”

The project, which yielded a 14,000–square–foot campus, combined two “twin” and two “dragonfly” units. The buildings house learning and teaching areas, office space, a multimedia theater, reception area and cafe.

The Project FROG team worked closely with officials at the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) to create their new, permanent Child Development Center. Project FROG provided a financially viable building solution that met the school leadership's sustainability goals and tight timeline for their campus expansion project.

The innovative new campus provides the administrators, teachers and young children a healthy, flexible learning environment.

Made from predominantly recycled materials, the high-performance units boast many more eco-friendly features such as abundant natural light, occupancy and daylight sensors, configurable window wall systems, enhanced acoustics, non-VOC carpeting and interiors, raised plenum access floors, photovoltaic panels and a living roof.

The completion of the Child Development Center at CCSF represents Project FROG's model for campus growth – one that is affordable, quick to deploy and sustainable.

The project consisted of 9,400 square feet of classrooms and administrative space and 7,000 square feet of open space to accommodate 40 preschoolers, 20 toddlers and eight administrators. That translates to 35 square feet of indoor space and 75 square feet of outdoor space per child.


Project FROG, Inc.

Roundhouse One

1500 Sansome Street

San Francisco, CA 94111

(415) 814-8500


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