Last week, two project managers from Red Chair Architects attended the USGBC East Tennessee High Performance & Healthy Schools Symposium. U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a nonprofit organization that sets standards and provides education in favor of cost-efficient and energy-saving sustainable buildings. The East Tennessee chapter is a wonderful resource for design professionals in our area. The High Performance & Healthy Schools Symposium provided an opportunity to bring school representatives together with designers to discuss sustainable strategies and challenges school systems face when making tough decisions on a budget.
This helped further our education on how to make smart decisions in the future when approaching school design. Currently we make every effort to incorporate sustainable strategies into our building designs. A few consistent key factors are proper orientation for natural day light, proper insulation, and implementing technology features that help reduce energy usage. Several of our projects have been equipped with geothermal systems. This decreases the load on the mechanical system by using the earth’s naturally occurring heat to assist in the heating and cooling of a building. This is a wonderful application for long term building owners to take and lower their utility costs.
The diagram below illustrates our use of a geothermal loop as part of the mechanical system in one of our recent educational projects; the Prescott South Elementary & Middle School in Cookeville, Tennessee. Over 150 geothermal wells help offset the heating and cooling costs as well as reduce the energy consumption of this 285,000 square foot facility.