National Environmental Science Center at Yosemite

Siegel & Strain Architects

National Environmental Science Center at Yosemite

Architect: Siegel and Strain Architects

Size: 48,675 sf

Status: Completed in 2018

MSD Key Staff: David Mar

Awards and Certifications: 

  • LEED Platinum Targeted Key

The Yosemite Institute is expanding its environmental education mission in Yosemite National Park with a seventeen-building residential–education center near Badger Pass. The complete center will include a dining hall, cabins, bathhouses, classrooms, a fire station, and support facilities.


The new LEED Platinum-designed buildings wed the latest green design and energy concepts with the site’s inherent attributes to provide an interactive model of sustainability in which program participants can engage firsthand. Extensive energy modeling and analysis of the materials and assemblies led to a project that is projected to be net-zero energy; save 60 percent over standard water use; minimize material waste through factory construction.


During the schematic design phase, we identified strategies to address the unique challenges of the project’s proposed complex, including a short construction season, limited access to the site, intermittent occupancy, steep slopes, and heavy snow loads. Foundation and framing options were further vetted against sustainability criteria such as carbon footprint, embodied energy, and the potential for prefabrication off-site.

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