November 8, 2016

John Diffenderfer Recognized with ZNE Leadership Award at Green CA Schools & Community Colleges Summit

New award recognizes California leadership in zero net energy schools

August 4, 2015

Fremont Union High School in Sunnyvale Celebrates Its New Cafeteria and Classroom Building, Continuing a Beautiful Tradition

In 2012, the Fremont Union High School District in Sunnyvale hired Aedis to upgrade a 1950s-era cafeteria building. But shortly afterward, projected skyrocketing student enrollments showed the school needed more classrooms. Aedis rapidly transformed this project into a new 32-classroom and cafeteria building.

The new building harmonizes with the surrounding campus buildings, all built in the early 1900s in the Spanish mission revival style. In May, the completed building was formally opened and celebrated. Students, teachers, principals, and others turned out for an opening ceremony. The San Jose Mercury News covered the event:

Thang at Aedis counter
March 12, 2015

Aedis Architects’ headquarters goes platinum: Earns highest LEED-CI rating for renovation of our office space

LEED Platinum logo Aedis Architects’ headquarters in San Jose earned a LEED-CI Platinum rating for our green renovation of a 1920s-era building, converting a warren of rundown tiny apartments into one of the city’s first LEED Commercial Interiors (CI) Platinum-certified projects.

Thang Do, Senior Principal at Aedis, tells the story:

How do we love green? Let us count the ways….

What makes our project sustainable?

We start with picking the location: It’s on a downtown block with a high walkability index and excellentaccess to public transportation. Our employees each are provided a free VTA Ecopass good for all local public buses and light rail.

We provide bike storage and showers for employees. In addition, we buy subscriptions to Bay Area Bike Share bicycles for employee use.

Our project is an adaptive reuse of a nearly century-old historic building. Taking a minimalist approach, we intervened as little as possible to allow the building to continue its transformation over time.

We diverted more than 90 percent of construction waste from landfills. Much of the lumber removed from the project was reused as architectural woodwork.

Our water use is more than 40 percent below baseline through the use of waterless urinals and high-efficiency fixtures.

We provide natural daylighting and access to outside views for all occupants. The mostly LED lighting system uses both occupancy and daylight sensors, so lights are never on when they don’t have to be.

Our employees enjoy a displacement ventilation system, which delivers not only very high efficiency but also high comfort, as it ejects airborne pollutants from the building to create a healthy indoor environment.

Also, 98% of wood-based products are FSC certified. All materials in the project are low emitting or non-emitting of chemical treatments.

Interestingly, platinum level certification was achieved without the use of any solar photovoltaic or power-generating measures (we are in the shadow of an adjacent high-rise building so our solar exposure is limited).

Perhaps best of all, construction cost for this complete transformation was only $86 per square foot.

We have designed several LEED-rated buildings, as well as the state’s first net-zero energy school, so it was a given that our new headquarters would also be LEED rated.

Aside from LEED rating, we hoped to create a setting that is as native to San Jose and our neighborhood as possible. For us, that meant paring down the building, using exposed functions as decor, and making it as harmonious with its outer environment as we could for now. But it’s a work in progress. Stay tuned.

Above: Our LEED-CI scorecard

Download a LEED-CI Factsheet from the U.S. Green Building Council

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November 25, 2014

Aedis-designed Blackford School Net-Zero Multi-Use Building wins Green Technology leadership award at the Green California Schools Summit

The Blackford Elementary School in Campbell was awarded a 2014 Leadership Award for its progressive energy-efficient net-zero design by Green Technology Magazine and the Green Schools Summit.


Campbell Union School District plans to reduce its dependence on electricity and natural gas by 80 to 100 percent. The first projects planned to meet that goal were new multi-use buildings with zero net-energy consumption for eight of its elementary sites.The first one was constructed and opened at Blackford School in 2013. It includes a full glass facade and skylights to eliminate the need for electrical lighting during the school day. Automated windows and louvers bring in outside air to cool and heat the building.


A “cool roof,” thick installation, and a computer-controlled energy management system also lower energy consumption. A passive ventilation system keeps the building at a comfortable temperature: windows automatically open to let warm air out and the cool air in. When the temperature is warm enough to require air conditioning, the windows close automatically and the system turns on. Rooftop solar panels meet the remaining energy demand for the building and bring it to net-zero energy use, which means it produces as much energy as it uses over the course of a year.


The new building will be used primarily as a cafeteria and performance space.

Aedis principal John Diffenderfer and Campbell Union School District representative, Doug Williams, accepted the award at the Green Schools Summit in Pasadena in November.


“What is considered exemplary today will soon be considered mainstream. Going forward, the same attention needs to be paid to water use, and the safety of the materials we use in the classroom,” Diffenderfer says. “Zero-net everything!”


Read more about Blackford in this San Jose Mercury News article.

Other winners were Cerritos College for campuswide water conservation, the city of Oceanside’s Zero-Waste Schools Program, and the Team Marine program awarded for student engagement.

Aedis principal John Diffenderfer and Campbell Union School District representative, Doug Williams, accepted the award at the Green Schools Summit in Pasadena in November.

November 3, 2014

Aedis celebrates 60 years in good company

The year was 1954: Elvis Presley recorded his debut single “That’s All Right.”
The first TV dinner appeared in grocery store freezers.
The country’s first mass polio vaccines were administered.
A young Senator John Kennedy appeared on TV’s “Meet the Press.”

And the architecture firm, Allan M. Walter and Associates, was established–one of the first major architectural practices serving public and private clients in a booming area now known as Silicon Valley. Ultimately, it merged with Porter Jensen Hansen Manzagol to form Aedis Architects.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Aedis’s earliest beginnings, our staff conjured 1954 with swing dancing, hit music from the 1950s, bobby socks, and at least one poodle skirt for an evening of dancing and toasting six decades of great work and great clients.

Clients and other friends of the firm joined us at SoFa Market–the ground floor of the Prussia Building in San Jose’s South Fine Arts District–for the celebration, held in conjunction with San Jose’s First Fridays Art Walk.

Thanks to all who joined us to commemorate this milestone!

Click here to see more photos:

Assembly Woman Nora Campos
November 3, 2014

New building in San Jose’s Evergreen Community College District expands police facility while reducing campus energy use and using recycled water

The San Jose Evergreen Community College District’s spacious building housing both the police department and the campus’s central power plant does double duty, more than tripling police working space while introducing innovative new ultra-efficient heating and cooling systems that will lower campus operating costs.

Designed by Aedis Architects, the newly renovated and expanded building also uses recycled wastewater, reducing the need for drought-stressed freshwater supplies and making it the third largest user of reclaimed water in Santa Clara County.

Daylit open work environments replace the former cramped police offices, creating welcoming light-filled spaces.

Sharing the 13,000-square-foot building is the campus’s central energy plant, now installed with a cooling tower that uses recycled wastewater­­. A new cogeneration power system efficiently provides both clean electricity and heat, substantially cuts campus energy use by allowing its older boilers to be shut off during peak hours.

“Designing for efficiency and using recycled and environmentally low-impact materials reflect the college’s and the community’s values and just make sense all around,” says Aedis’s Joe Vela. “We can’t take energy and water for granted anymore.”

The building’s other environmentally innovative features include:

  • Recycled wastewater is used to flush low-flush toilets and urinals
  • Natural daylighting reduces the need for powered lighting
  • Low-emitting paints, materials, finishes, and adhesives that reduce chemical off-gassing
  • Super-efficient fully dimmable LED lighting fixtures
  • High-efficiency water fixtures such as ultra-low flush toilets
  • An Energy Star listed “cool roof” system that assures the sun doesn’t heat up the building during hot months
  • Motion sensors that turn off lights when rooms are not in use
  • And several other features such as minimal asphalt and low-water landscaping to reduce impacts on the site and its surroundings.

“Today’s buildings need to reflect our best knowledge and resource realities,” Vela says. “The new building’s features and its central energy plant will go a long way to save money and reduce the campus’s resource footprint.”

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September 16, 2014

Fremont High School Beam Signing

Our Fremont High School Team, June Yip & Pascal Najem, signed the beam for the new Cafeteria & Classroom building yesterday.
In celebration of the new building, the beam was also signed by Board of Trustees, FUHSD and FHS staff, students, alumni, construction team, and community members after which the beam was placed into a permanent position in the new building.

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08.25 SoFA Market
August 25, 2014

Silicon Valley Business Journal Highlights the SoFA Market downstairs

“Do, senior principal of , has  to a new 9,000-square-foot headquarters office in the historic building. Fellow San Jose firm NBA Architects and Metro Newspapers have rented additional space on the upper floors of the three-story building.

But Do has also stayed busy flexing his entrepreneurial and urban planning muscles with the SoFA Market — a 7,500-square-foot marketplace on the ground floor of the building that houses Aedis, which we  last year. As of this week, the first shop is officially open, and Do is targeting a grand opening later this fall ahead of the 60th Anniversary of Aedis in early October.”

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August 22, 2014

Heights Elementary School – Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Heights Elementary School originally opened it’s doors in 1953. The total floor area of the old school has 51,300 square feet of floor space.

On August 14, 2013, Pittsburg Unified School District broke ground for the new Heights Elementary School building. A year later, this Saturday, August 23, 2014, the community will celebrate the opening of the replacement building.

It is 72,958 square feet of floor space and produces over 177,600 kW of energy each year for the school using two solar sub-arrays. The design of the New Heights Elementary School was based on the design of Burbank Elementary School in Hayward.

Pictured here are our team members (left to right): Thang Do, Nick Arps (Pittsburg Unified School District), Mariana Alvarez-Parga, and Rick Navarro. You can read more about them in our Peoplesection.

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July 21, 2014

Classrooms at Bulldog Tech “invigorate” students and staff

“We love the classrooms because we feel… invigorated when we’re in there.”

Watch more about Bulldog Tech at LeyVa Middle School. Thank you, AMS, for this video.

July 14, 2014

School-Based Health Centers & School Violence

Did you know that School-Based Health Centers play a catalytic role in averting school violence?

Aedis is currently working on a School-Based Health Center in San Leandro and recently completed the expansion of the Columbia Middle School Neighborhood Center (pictured here).

It’s because of projects like these that we are able to provide valuable services not just to the students and staff of each school, but the surrounding community.

Read more about the value of School-Based Health Centers in preventing school violence here:

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June 13, 2014

Spring Think Tank Highlights: Leveraging Prop 39 Funding

Pictured here is a ceramics studio in a LEED Silver community college building at San Jose City College

Designed by Aedis, it uses solar tubing and an abundance of operable glazing to let natural light and ventilation in. We’ve helped many of our clients implement energy efficient measures to preserve their general fund.

If sustainable projects like this can help preserve the general fund; then can State funds for energy efficient projects become an investment with a recognizable payback? Prop 39 and was designed by the CA Energy Commission to transform the way Districts think about facility improvements using a common Real Estate term called Savings to Investment Ratio (SIR).

Aedis holds bi-annual think tank sessions for our clients in Spring and Fall to discuss issues they may be dealing with in their Districts.

Here are some highlights from our spring session in May 2014, which focused on Leveraging Prop 39 Funding: 

June 3, 2014

San Leandro Unified School District part of consortium awarded a $15 million Career Pathways Trust grant

San Leandro’s commitment to Career Technical Education is long understood. Measure B supported renovation of the former industrial arts building, now reborn as the Career Technical Education Center (Completed by Aedis in Fall 2012).

[SAN LEANDRO—June 3, 2014] San Leandro Unified School District Superintendent Mike McLaughlin Ed.D announced today that the East Bay I-880/80 Consortium, of which the district is a partner, is a recipient of the highly competitive Career Pathways Trust Grants linking Education and Careers. The new $250 million program is designed to help students stay in school by providing hands-on learning and sustained career pathways which connect K-12 schools, community colleges and businesses in order to prepare them for the 21 st century workplace. Administered by the California Department of Education (CDE), the program received 123 eligible applications with a request of nearly triple the amount in available funding. Once the strongest applications were identified, the applications went through a rigorous evaluation process carried out by the CDE, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and the California Workforce Investment Board, and only 40 were selected for funding awards. The $15 million East Bay I-880/80 Consortium Career Pathways Trust grant will help support career technical education at three community colleges (Peralta Community College District is the lead applicant), and eleven school districts, including San Leandro Unified School District and its partner, Eden Regional Occupational Program (ROP).

“Although the funding is divided by multiple partners,” said Superintendent McLaughlin, “this is a huge win for our students. By working with Eden Area ROP, which already provides career technical education courses at our high school and at their center, we will be able to strengthen and enhance career pathways for our students.”

The East Bay I-80/880 Consortium’s focus is on preparing students for four critical sectors in the East Bay: Health Sciences, Engineering (including Advanced Manufacturing), Information and Communication Technologies/Digital Media, and Public Service.

Industry partners in the consortium include: Bayer, Oakland Children’s Hospital, Bio-Rad, San Francisco General Hospital, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Turner Construction, BAYWORK, Terminal Manufacturing, Autodesk, Maxon Computer, and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

The District and Eden Area ROP acknowledge the support of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce. In addition to writing a letter on behalf of the grant application, the Chamber’s CEO Dave Johnson attended the interview process.

The California Career Pathways Trust was spearheaded last year by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg. “The real rewards will be realized by tens of thousands of [California] students, Steinberg said. “Students who are more engaged in learning will stay in school and graduate with better preparation for college and the workforce.”

Steinberg added that with grant requests exceeding available funding, it is obvious there is a “hunger for career pathway programs,” adding, “I’m fighting for another $300 million infusion of funding for career pathway grants. For our students and our economy, we can’t afford to lose momentum.”

“The partnerships funded by these grants will bring real-world experience and hands-on learning to our students, opening new bridges of opportunity from the classroom to success in college and careers,” said State Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Torlakson, who supports the push for more funding.

“Career technical education makes academic work meaningful and relevant for our students,” said Dr. McLaughlin, “exposing them to a wide array of post-secondary college and career possibilities. An investment in our students is an investment in our future. Now is the time.”

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June 3, 2014

Dublin High School’s Center for Performing Arts and Education Opens with Community Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony is calling the new Center for Performing Arts and Education “the new crown jewel of Dublin”.

Below is a video of the concluding ceremony where DHS Senior Vivian Sung performed the First Movement of Sonata Opus 81A (Beethoven) and Alborada del Gracio (Ravel) on a Grand Piano on the stark/curtained stage.

What is rewarding for us is seeing how this new facility is going to be used; not only as a performance space, but as a hands-on teaching tool. Seeing talents like this fostered through the buildings we design, makes all our work worth it.

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March 31, 2014

Will Your Next School be Net Zero?

We have more Net Zero projects underway. Our very first one, LeyVa Middle School Administration Building, is featured in this magazine, page 10:
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March 28, 2014

Silicon Valley Business Journal: Silicon Valley planners, architects list top challenges

In this article, our very own Thang Do urges more architects to get involved in local planning commissions or architectural review boards that aim to improve design in cities.

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Robotics Competition at Great America 2014
March 27, 2014

Dublin High School Gael Force Advances to Worlds Robotics Competition

Congratulations to the Dublin High School “Gael Force”!

On March 15 & 16, the high schools’ Engineering Academy sent 3 teams to compete at the CA State VEX Robotics Championship at Great America. One of DHS’s Gael Force teams ranked #1 after qualification matches that ended on Sunday, March 16. They were the only undefeated team throughout quals. The two other teams were ranked #8 and #18 out of the 73 teams. The Gael Force has made it to semi-finals and have now qualified for Worlds! They also took home both of the top awards for the second year in a row – Design and Excellence. The DHS Gael Force is now preparing for their trip to Worlds, which will be in Anaheim on April 23-26. Best of luck to the team!

Ms. Eugene Chou is the Gael Force’s teacher and presented a case study of their Engineering Academy’s facilities at this year’s 2014 Annual CASH (Coalition for Adequate School Housing) Conference. These facilities are part of Aedis’ campus-wide modernization of Dublin High School. We are happy to see that the facilities are supporting the aspirations and goals of the students by giving them a professional environment to work in and making it possible for them to compete in such events.

March 3, 2014

Quimby Oaks Middle School Moves onto the Western Regionals School of the Future National Design Competition

Congratulations to our students at Quimby Oaks for moving onto regionals! We are so proud of you!

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January 24, 2014

Which is the smartest city in America?

Our very own Bulldog Tech is featured in the TODAY show:

“Which is the smartest city in America?”

In its “Healthy, Wealthy, Wise” series, TODAY reveals that the U.S.’s smartest city is San Jose, Calif. More than half of adults there have a college degree, and young entrepreneurs are moving there in droves. The government has even put a patent office in a San Jose post office, a first in the country. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports:

CASH Announcement Image
January 24, 2014

Aedis at this year’s 35th Annual Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) Conference

Join us at the 2014 CASH Conference

February 24, Monday, 2:15pm, Room 306
Accelerating Zero to 39 in less than 90 Minutes

In its first year, Prop 39 will provide around $324 million for K-12 schools to help meet AB32 goals to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint to 1990 levels by 2020 and another $36 million in technical assistance, loans, and grants. Net Zero thinking is now more than just an option, it is almost a requirement for achieving the goal for a cleaner energy future. Our presentation will include an overview of these potential changes in the regulatory context, funding sources, and descriptions of Net Zero Energy, Net Zero Water and Grid Neutral approaches to current district projects.

February 25, Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 314
Enhancing the Educational Experience with High Performance Design

As we all know, many high performance buildings show an improvement in student and school success. So if this correlation exists, what values do high performance buildings reinforce to drive that success? How are those manifested in the design of the building? Is High Performance Design just about conserving natural resources and operational costs? Or are there intangible benefits beyond all this, in terms of cultural and behavioral shifts? Find out for yourself by experiencing it at the CASH Active Learning Lab (The Active Learning Lab was designed in collaboration with One WorkPlace.)

November 3, 2013

Daily Motion (Người Việt năm Châu): Aedis Architects Office in Downtown San Jose

This news story highlights the green features of our new office.

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October 15, 2013

East Side Union Celebrates Opening of New Overfelt Adult Education Building

Serving over 7,500 students in East San Jose, this critical community resource helps many adults acquire English language skills, high school diplomas and employment skills. The new two-story facility includes 18 classrooms, 2 computer labs, student lounge and administrative offices. It is located on the same site; it replaces the relocatable classrooms that were used for years to house the program.

“This new facility is a dream come true for many of us.  The community deserves this 21st century learning environment and they take full advantage of the services offered,” said Richard Uribe, Director of Adult Education.

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August 26, 2013

Silver Creek High School Celebrates Opening of Multi-Purpose Building

The keynote speaker and the first on-stage presenter in the new theater was Mr. Frank Carbajal, a Silver Creek alumni. He co-authored the book – Building the Latino Future: Success Stories for the Next Generation. His company, Es Tiempo, specializes in providing life and business coaching for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Aedis has been working on East Side Union High School District schools for over 40 years. We love creating spaces not just for teaching, but also places that bring people together. Glad you were able to come back to your school, Mr. Carbajal!

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June 25, 2013

Silicon Valley Business Journal Exclusive: A New San Pedro Square Market for San Jose’s SoFA district?

Aedis Architects aims to make its new headquarters in San Jose’s South First Area (SoFA) much more than your average office building.

The company is renovating a historic building at 387 S. First St. to hold a new 9,000-square-foot office. That’s just the beginning…

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May 10, 2013

AIA Tracings: AIA Santa Clara Valley Chapter’s visits Aedis’ new Downtown San Jose Office

April 16, 2013

NBC Bay Area: MUJI Brings Retail to Silicon Valley

MUJI San Jose opened its doors to the public on April 16, 2013. This store is revitalizing downtown San Jose retail and we truly enjoyed being part of the process of transforming this space into what it is now.

This project is the second MUJI store on the West Coast. We completed the San Francisco store in the winter of 2012.

April 1, 2013

San Mateo County Office of Education News: Green Collar Careers Summit Highlights ROP And Green Career Opportunities

Our very own John Diffenderfer was a panelist at this Green Collar Careers Summit hosted by the San Mateo County Office of Education. The summit connected nearly 80 professionals from the county’s high schools, community colleges, employers, nonprofits, government and workforce development agencies to discuss what students need to learn to do the diverse jobs our economy and environment demand.

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February 1, 2013

AIA Tracings: Envisioning a School of the Future through Project-Based Learning

Quimby Oaks Middle School has entered into the nation-wide Schools of the Future Design Competition run by Council of Educational Facility Planners International (cefpi). The school integrated the competition into its pilot program 21st Century Project Based-Learning classes. Aedis Architects volunteered to mentor two of these classes guiding them in creating their submittals for the competition.

On January 11, 2013 the 5 classes showcased their designs. We are proud to see both our classes (3rd & 4th period) produce amazingly original, thoughtful and sustainable designs.

A big thank you to Ms. Colleen Boyle, teacher for the 21st Century Project-Based Learning classes. It has been such a rewarding and rich experience to be able to work with you and your students! Congratulations to our 3rd period students for winning!

January 5, 2013

From CCFC Courier: West Valley College LEEDs the Way

We are pleased to announce that through West Valley College’s LEED Internship Program, our very own John Diffenderfer (LEED AP BD+C EBOM) has been working with students to achieve LEED certification for their existing Fox Building Technology Center. You can read more about the innovative internship program in the attached article from the CCFC Courier, January 2013 issue.

December 11, 2012

From SF Gate: Muji Keeps it Simple with new S.F. Store

The new store in the city’s SoMa district offers more than 2,000 items on nearly 8,000 square feet. Virtually every aspect of the brand’s products and retail design is decidedly Japanese: a store for modernists of every stripe where form and function are presented not as exceptions but as ultimatums.

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