In September this year, a new sustainable green school in Bend, Oregon will open. Its truly great news all around. I am just sad that we don’t live in the neighborhood in which it will be sited. With 300 sunny days a year in our hometown, and plenty of breezy afternoons, Central Oregon is a haven for renewable energy! Other districts should sit up and take a lesson from the Bend La-Pine School District… they get an “A” for going green.
William E. Miller Elementary will be a LEED-certified grade school with a gold-level certification. Located off of Skyliners Road, it will serve the west side of the City which experienced a great deal of growth in the early 2000s. It is on track to open in time for the 2009-10 school year in the fall for 600 students
At first blush, Miller Elementary looks like any other grade school in town. But take a closer look and you’ll see the smart, green elements that have been incorporated into its construction and operation:
- Solar Panels: 252 panels will be installed on the roof to provide 12% of required energy. It will be the largest solar array in the region
- Other renewable energy: Participation in the Blue Sky Energy Program means that all electric power will come from renewable energy resources (wind, solar, geothermal)
- Low-Flush Toilets and waterless urinals: Water is a precious resource on the high desert!
- Sustainable Wood Products: More than half of the wood used in construction is certified as from environmentally responsible forest management
- Recycled and local building products: A considerable percentage of materials are recycled and many of them are from sources within 500 miles of the school.
- Drought-friendly landscaping: Expected to save irrigation water use by more than 60%!
- Low or no VOC-emitting paints, floors, wood and furnishings
- Preservation of natural habitat
The aim is for a LEED gold-level certification. Not only will the new Miller Elementary get recognition in the news for its highly green status, but it will also get a plaque and additional tax credits and incentives. Since the district is tax-exempt, it will pass through the credits to a partner that will give it a lump sum payment.
Oregon is not the only state boasting green schools! It is interesting to read or hear about other schools in the nation that have achieved LEED-certification. I loved this video of a Montessori school in Texas:
Miller Elementary in Bend is just the beginning! The school district will use many of the plans for another planned elementary in LaPine in the near future. Students, parents and administrators are excited about using local sustainable timber for construction and receiving a $50,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Energy towards building costs.
Perhaps most importantly is the feeling of pride and ownership that the school will instill in all those that enter the front doors. A feeling of responsible, one-ness with the environment, preservation and conservation.
These life lessons are just as critical as reading and writing. Can’t wait to see the report card for the new school next year!