Sweetwater has been designed with special considerations to minimize visual stimulation, ambient sound, lighting patterns and odors. Durable materials have been utilized throughout the development and specified to optimize safety, durability and ease of use. Individuals have the opportunity to customize their personal living spaces to accommodate their preferences and particular needs
Careful integration of practical sustainable design strategies promotes healthy environments and stewardship, reduces energy consumption and offers long-term cost benefits to the residents, staff and visitors. Universal Design strategies allow for generous accommodation and equal access for all ages and abilities. Particular care was taken with the selection of the building materials and systems to create healthy indoor air quality, acoustical control and thermal comfort through quiet heating and ventilation systems. The design team did not use ceiling fans due to the distracting visual patterns and acoustic issues, and instead used non-intrusive slot air diffusers, natural ventilation and radiant heating/cooling. Photovoltaic solar panels and solar hot water collectors are incorporated on all buildings. The project is a PG&E Zero Net Energy Pilot Project designed to use 88% less energy than baseline with future capacity to supply all required energy onsite.
Sweetwater Spectrum continues to refine and develop their community after being in operation for a few years. The organization believes that “the extensive research that went into creating the model and operating the campus, in addition to ongoing evaluation into its efficacy, will provide a blueprint for replication. The nation’s growing population of adults with autism now has an additional option for living on their own terms, with purpose and as independently as possible in a home – and a community – of their own.”