In September, students of the new Finn Hill Jr. High School in Kirkland WA, stepped through the doors of their newly built sustainable school. Designers & administrators wanted to not only provide a sustainable model for other districts around the country, but they also wanted to help students learn about conservation as a result of this new school structure.
On the first day of school, students were greeted by the "Finn Hill Family", a collection of glass figurines designed by a local Washington artist. Just a pretty piece of art in the foyer of the new school? NO, LEDs inside each sculpture are wired to controls that measure the electricity, heat and water use in the building. Each classroom is designated into a specific cluster and the more energy and water students conserve, the brighter their classroom cluster figurine will shine. Using competition and visual symbols is an impressively creative way to keep the students engaged with their school's conservation and energy savings!
So what features does the new school use to help conserve environment resources? Seattle design firm, Mahlum Architects, started with SIPS (structural insulated panel system for framing) to provide a tight, well-insulated building envelope. The new building is constructed of 6-inch-thick SIPS walls and a 10-inch-thick SIPS roof as part of the net-zero energy ready design. Mahlum designed the school with a 25 kBtu per square foot, per year energy consumption target, which is up to 70% more efficient than older Seattle area schools.
The SIP panels helps the school district reduce energy costs, and allowed for smaller, more cost-effective mechanical systems. Reducing heating and cooling consumption was critical for the building’s “net-zero energy ready” design. With the smaller mechanical systems and usage, the roof-mounted solar panels will be able to generate enough energy for all of the school’s heating and cooling needs. In fact, the school opened with one of the largest solar panel installations in the state of Washington to date.
Premier SIPS has helped many schools across the country reach net-zero ready status, desired green building certifications , sustainable and energy goals. And specifically, by the use of SIPS, a Las Vegas school district saved $1 million in construction labor costs (including electrical installation savings), 80% framing time savings, and reduced HVAC requirements by approximately half!
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Zero Energy SIP Built School, Students Compete to Learn Energy & Water Conservation...