Aedis Architects has served the education sector of Silicon Valley for more than 60 years.

Aedis Architects has served the education sector of Silicon Valley for more than 60 years.AS ONE OF THE TOP education architecture firms in Silicon Valley, it’s telling that Aedis Architects prides itself on the youthful energy the  rm employs on its staff. Considering the company’s leaders, including principal and Vice President John Diffenderfer, range in ages between the 40s and 50s, a learning atmosphere that fosters the betterment of children is priority No. 1.

“We have a mentoring and collaborative culture here because we’re good communicators,” Diffenderfer says. “This empowers the team at every level.”

Diffenderfer assumed the role of principal when two  rms – PJHM Architects and Allan Walter Group – merged to form Aedis Architects.

“I don’t mind pouring my heart into a project when I know that it will change the world for the better, even in a small way,” Diffenderfer said in a statement.

Since the merger, sustainability has become a major goal for many of Aedis’s projects, with several LEED and CHPS-certified projects completed.

Learning about Net Zero

One project that gives Diffenderfer a great deal of pride is the modernization of LeyVa Middle School in San Jose, California. The school was redesigned as a cutting-edge learning environment and a model of energy and resource conservation following the successful delivery of the school’s administration office building, California’s  rst net-zero energy/emissions public school facility.

LeyVa Middle School also features double- size, team-teaching classrooms that create a campus within a campus. The “Bulldog Café” serves as the new nutritional services facility.

The campus has a new central student quad and other multifunctional outdoor amenities.

The Evergreen School District’s budget for the project was about $16 million. Construction was completed in 2013.

Aedis Architects developed the master plan in 2008 as the economy took a turn for the worse, which hit California school funding especially hard.

“The challenge was to stay focused on a shared vision in an ever-changing financial environment,” Diffenderfer says.

Aedis Architects made the project a success through its planning.

“You defined the performance standard – in this case, a perfect score – then we identified the factors and modeled our systems to meet that standard,” he says. “We let the energy model drive the design.” With the successful completion of Ley- Va Middle School, Aedis Architects has learned to put its trust in data and building performance models,

“Our engineers play a much more influential role in the schematic design phase and even conceptual,” Diffenderfer says. “We are now venturing into seeing how human performance modeling can influence design.”