The Colonel Smith Middle School in Fort Huachuca, Ariz. won several awards for its sustainable design and energy saving measures, the US Army announced this week. Among the chief features that the net-zero school boasts is energy efficient lighting that reduces energy used by 80 percent, natural lighting through windows and rain water storage that negates the need to draw from groundwater.
The middle school won the 2013 grand prize for Outstanding Design and Architecture in Education for K-12 schools given by School Planning & Management magazine. This is not the first time it has won awards — its green design garnered quite a few awards last year too, when construction was first completed.
LED lights with digital controls enable the school to use a minimal amount of lighting and motion sensors help avoid energy wastage. Electrical distribution includes discrete metering of lighting, HVAC and plug loads on a building-by-building basis to verify that the campus is operating equal to or better than the design phase whole-building energy modeling. All of this will enable the school to lower lighting energy use by 80 percent compared to standard schools.
The facility’s mechanical systems include packaged rooftop, variable air volume (VAV) air handlers in each building pod. VAV air handlers use direct expansion, refrigerant cooling with energy efficiencies of 11.0 and 11.5 EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio). The air handlers supply air to VAV terminal units with hot water reheat. Hot water is supplied by 95 percent efficient natural gas boilers. Individual temperature control is provided for each VAV terminal unit, allowing for greater human comfort. Energy is recovered from locker room exhaust to preheat or precool supply air delivered to the locker rooms. Solar panels heat domestic water for the locker rooms and kitchen.
The school is located on a 24 acre site and can accommodate up to 600 students, although it only has 330 students enrolled so far. Energy monitoring dashboards allow students to track a building’s real time energy usage. All of the green measures were implemented without significant additions to the building cost, says Education Design Showcase.
Arizona schools have also been looking to the sun to boost their sustainability. The Somerton School District completed an aggregate 1.6 MW (DC) solar generation project in Yuma County, Ariz. Located at five sites – Desert Sonora Elementary School, Orange Grove Elementary School, Somerton Middle School, Tierra del Sol Elementary School and Valle del Encanto Learning Center – the installations are expected to collectively generate enough electricity to meet approximately 60 percent of the schools’ electricity needs.
Image: Colonel Smith Middle School, credit Fanning Howey