Stillwater News Press

June 23, 2013

Stillwater's newest schools will be energy efficient

By Merrick Eagleton
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Highland Park and Will Rogers elementary schools are being built to meet the demands of LEED certification.

LEED stands for leadership in energy and environmental design. In Oklahoma, there is only one other school awarded a LEED certification and about 70 buildings already certified or in the process of becoming LEED certified. Jim Ryan, assistant superintendent of operations, said this is among the lowest in the United States.

“What we’re trying to do here is educate our community and region to the advantages of LEED certification,” Ryan said.

Financially, bills are expected to decrease along with electricity usage. They won’t know the exact amount though until they are in the new schools. They also will not find out the final LEED score until the schools have been in use for one year because LEED requires data to be provided to back up how efficient the building is.

“The insulation in these schools is remarkable,” Ryan said. Not to mention the fact that we’re doing geothermal which reduces the electrical consumption significantly.”

Both schools have many features that are planned to remain open after regular school hours for the public to use. Each school will feature a health care clinic which will be open to the surrounding neighborhoods. Both gyms are high school sized with full size basketball and volleyball courts. They also have bleachers, climbing walls, and a stage. The stages were built at a lower height than the standard. This was done with the younger children in mind. Ryan said the gyms, computer labs, libraries, and outdoor recreational spaces have the option of remaining open for the community.

“The whole point of both of these schools is they’re community schools,” Ryan said. “We want the communities in both neighborhoods to use this and the community at large to use these schools after hours.”

Will Rogers elementary has a curved design to match the river on the north side. It is two stories, with the community access area on the west side. Will Rogers is expected to open Sept. 6.

“We’re starting in the old school for two weeks,” Ryan said.

Baze compared Highland Park to a bird. You’ve got two wings and then the body, he said. The body will be the area open to the public. Each grade level has a specific color scheme with furniture to match. The school is projected to be complete Aug. 12. Faculty will have eight days to move in and set up before the first day of school on August 20.

Both schools have classrooms of about 1,000 square feet. They are built to hold 600 students. The windows can withstand winds up to 90 miles per hour. Both schools also feature safety hallways. These hallways are built of thick concrete with hurricane doors at each end to close off the area. The hurricane doors can withstand winds of hurricane forces. Access to the schools will also be through faculty ID cards rather than a traditional lock and key system. Ryan said if this is effective then they will look into replicating it at the older buildings too.

Will Rogers and Highland Park were chosen to be rebuilt because they were in the worst condition. Ryan said they were not effective and didn’t have the right spaces.

“They were not designed for a 2013 school,” Ryan said. “They were designed for 1950.”