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What We Can Learn From A Green School in Mid-Missouri

November 10, 2010

The Eco Schoolhouse at Grant Elementary is a perfect example of integrating green living into every aspect of a building. Designed by Peckham & Wright Architecture firm, this building has achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Education Design) certification for its energy efficiency and environmentally friendly building materials. Adrienne Stolwyk of Peckam & Wright takes us on a tour of the schoolhouse:

When designing this project the architects set out to create a building that would not only be energy efficient, but would also benefit the surrounding environment. That’s why Peckham and Wright used a technique known as native landscaping. Native landscaping uses native plants and weeds that are accustomed to the environments harsh conditions and therefore don’t require extra attention or water. This translates into lower costs for lawn care, which means more money saved. The outside of the building includes the use of light colored roofing and pavement, which are used to reflect heat from the building. The building also surrounded by several wooden barrels used to collect rainwater, which is then distributed back to the plants through an irrigation system.

Another feature is the use of low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints and coatings. VOC’s are chemical compounds with significant vapor pressures, which can affect the environment and human health. Use of low VOC’s reduces the human intake of these harmful chemicals, and is therefore much healthier for you.

My personal favorite feature of the building? The use of natural lighting. The schoolhouse is designed with a number of skylights as well as multiple windows surrounding the building. This is a “great green” feature because it reduces the buildings dependency on artificial lighting which, in turn, saves electricity.

 

Down to the Basics: The Eco Schoolhouse and some of the building's features.

 

You may ask – SO HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? Here are a few of our 8 Goes Green suggestions:

  • If you’re looking to buy or build a new home, why not ask your architects to integrate some of these more cost effective features, such as natural lighting and good insulation? The good news is you don’t have to pay a fortune to make your home more energy efficient.
  • Look for better household appliances (Energy Star certified), better windows, and better insulation.
  • One of the best ways to save energy is to turn our thermostats down in the winter and up in the summer.
  • Instead of cranking up the heater in the winter, add an extra sweater or blanket.
  • Insulate your water heater
  • Calk your windows or doors wherever there may be gaps.
  • Close your windows and doors when the A/C or heating is on.
  • Install a timed thermometer, so the A/C doesn’t run all day.
  • And most importantly, when you’re not in the room, just turn off the lights.

Here are some tips from Peckham and Wright’s Erik Miller and Adrienne Stolwyk on how to save energy around the house, and still be cost effective.

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