By Joseph Pratt
Clay Local School District was recently awarded the title of being a certified silver LEED building — which means they are more than progressive when it comes to using smart and ecological friendly features in the building’s construction, utilization and instructional methods.
The process has been a long one, since 2009, including the work of the construction company, members of their board, teachers, superintendent, principals and Technology Director Matt Kuehne.
A LEED scorecard is broken down into seven sections; the school did well in each category. Their scores include sustainable sites, five of 16; water efficiency, five of seven; atmosphere, 10 of 17; material and resources, three of 13; indoor environmental quality, 12 of 20; innovation two of six.
Some of their points came from factors such as location and what the building’s use can double as.
The new school was built on property already owned by the district, it was designed to support community use, such as music and art programs, is a registered voting location, the building is equipped with technology for computer and distance learning, and the building is also a designated Red Cross shelter, aimed to save taxpayers more money.
Some of the green benefits the school utilizes include water efficient landscaping, water use reduction, low-emitting materials, enhanced acoustical performance, regional and recycled materials, green power, and certified wood products.
Many of the school’s features also double as an ecological benefit and a financial one. All classrooms and many shared space locations feature large windows to welcome light, slanted ceilings are used to reflect window light down towards the students, systems that use water are low-flow, and the chilled beam HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system effectively heats and cools the building with water, which never exceeds 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Various technologies also help, such as software that collects data on classroom temperatures in relevance to time of the day, student body heat and more, to help decide what temperature the heating and cooling system needs to be at the next day to provide a comfortable environment. The lighting fixtures are also equipped with motion sensors that will shut lights off when inactivity is present.
“The rating just means the students are going to a school that has great interior air quality, safer and efficient chilled beams, we save money that can be used for teaching resources and the things they need, and more,” Kuehne said. “It just means we can provide a more comfortable facility for them.”
Overall, the building utilizes 38.9 percent less energy and 40.3 percent less water that a baseline energy code building, which reflects in the building’s utility bills. Windows and doors were even inspected using heat cameras to check for any gaps that could be losing the building air. Superintendent Tony Mantell said the school is saving upward of $80,000 a year in the new building.
Kuehne explained that silver was their original goal, because the point system for silver seemed most realistic, based on what they had to work with locally and their budget. Higher certification is harder to reach in an area like Scioto County, because of export and lack of methods to acquire materials such as railways and buses. The school also couldn’t get environmental points, because while there is a lot of wildlife around the building, there wasn’t enough to for it to have the opportunity to work around it in a productive way.
“We like to think that we are showing our students that we are being responsible by helping the environment and watching our costs,” Mantell said. “It is tied into things that we are teaching in science classes and use in the educational setting.”
Joseph Pratt can be reached at 740-353-3101, EXT 1932, or @JosephPratt03.