Arizona Gains Its First Net Zero School

There’s the Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving, Texas, and the offices of George V. Leyva Middle School in San Jose, Calif. Now Arizona has a net zero middle school building to call its own in the Colonel Smith Middle School in Fort Huachuca, currently the 12th certified net zero energy building in the nation.

The new school, built by Turner Construction, is located on the US Army’s intelligence training facility at 155 Carter Avenue, and will primarily serve the children of military families. It was dedicated on Friday, August 3, in an opening ceremony where Tony Wall, Program Manager and President of 3W Management, was quoted as saying, “”This is one of the great schools in America.” 3W Management oversaw the construction of the building.

Colonel Smith Middle School

image via Colonel Smith Middle School

Green features of the school include solar panels, high-efficiency HVAC units and three wind turbines, all of which will be monitored via a central energy dashboard that will send information to students’ iPads. Students will track plug loads and other energy in real time, keeping an eye out for anomalies. The school’s conservation center, in connection with its outdoor educational component, will also teach kids about the school’s conservation methods as part of its overall focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The facility has been worked with the International Living Future Institute to gain its net zero certification.

The building encompasses 88,693 square feet school will provide schooling for around 350 students in grades six through eight. The architect of record was Emc2 Group Architects Planners; the design architect was Fanning Howey; and the general contractor was Turner Construction. The school was designed to engage students in real-world problem-solving in a collaborative environment, with classes taking place both indoors and outdoors.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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