Sustaita Architects has given HISD its first LEED Silver School!

Initiated by a voter approved bond program and slated as a replacement school, HISD made a commitment to sustainable design for the benefit of not only the kids & faculty but for the community as well. In terms of economy the decision to go for LEED certification was an easy one. Life cycle costing of building materials and mechanical equipment would result in lower maintenance & operations costs. For a district the size of HISD these cost savings will undoubtedly prove to be considerable. Regarding the learning environment, low emitting materials, day lighting and exterior views from core learning and regularly occupied spaces have proven to result in greater productivity from both students and teachers. Community connectivity by way of a joint use agreement for school facilities will result in greater involvement by the parents and surrounding neighborhood, which in turn can add even further to the success of the school and to the district as a whole.

Early on the design team recognized the given site and surrounding community as a potential asset for earning LEED certification points. This would indeed prove to be true as points were earned for maximizing open space, community connectivity, access to public transit, low light pollution and a reduced heat island effect. Water efficiency also benefitted from proper site planning as the decision was made to use underground cisterns on site to capture & store rainwater for use in irrigation of the sites lawn, trees and shrubs.

The approach to energy and atmosphere was all about assembling a highly efficient building envelope. Insulated Low-E glass, and a roof and wall assembly with a low U-value resulted in achieving 5 points for Energy and Atmosphere with a 19% reduction in annual energy costs.

The strategy for Materials and Resources was to divert as much of the demolition/construction debris as possible to recycling plants and to utilize local suppliers whenever possible. Given that none of the structural design would involve wood, it was also decided that certified wood could be employed within budget. 90% of all construction related debris was diverted, 10% of all building materials (relative to cost) are regional and 89% of all wood on the job is FSC certified.

Indoor Environmental Quality was approached through research of building materials, coordination with MEP and thorough planning with the general contractor. The following are examples of just a few of the 12 points earned: low emitting materials, lighting design, thermal comfort design, daylight & views, enhanced acoustical performance and Indoor air quality management during construction.

HISD is the largest public school system in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States. Its schools are dedicated to giving every student the best possible education through an intensive core curriculum and specialized, challenging instructional and career programs.