New school of thought

01 Feb 2010

SHW Group completes design for first geothermal school in Houston

SHW Group's Houston studio has completed the design for the new two storey, 9,755 sq m Gloria Marshall Elementary School near Houston. Currently under construction, the new school will open in August 2010. It will be the first school in Houston to use geothermal heating and cooling, which is expected to save at least 25 percent in energy consumption over the current code.

The school was designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification and has already been accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to receive an ENERGY STAR rating due to its energy-efficient building design. In addition, SHW Group designed it to meet criteria for Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), the nation’s first green building rating program especially designed for K-12 schools.

Jody L. Henry, project manager for SHW Group said: “Spring Independent School District considered repeating an existing floor plan for Gloria Marshall Elementary School. During the design process, the district questioned SHW Group about daylighting, energy efficiency and water conservation. That discussion led SHW to produce a green design concept.”

Once complete, Gloria Marshall Elementary School will be a rectangular building oriented with long sides facing north and south. Each classroom will have natural light and the south-facing classrooms will take advantage of daylight harvesting. In addition, the building was designed to have lights off in the classrooms 75 percent of the time, so each room will have sensors that turns the lights on and off based on the levels of natural light in the room.

The entry to the building will be alongside a science garden and eco-pond that includes an above-ground cistern and a water trough. These can be used to teach children integrated concepts about math and science that allow for real-world experiences. Under the parking lot and playgrounds is a geothermal well field that will house a system of tubes and valves that take hot and cold water in and out of the building. Through the use of a web-based learning tool, students will be able to interact with the building systems and know the temperature of the water as it leaves the building and when it returns from deep in the earth.

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