The Montezuma-Cortez School District announced this week that the new high school has been awarded LEED Gold certification, which was required by the Building Excellent Schools Today grant that helped fund the school.
The LEED rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of buildings designed to improve environmental and human performance.
The high-tech school opened in August 2015 with flexible academic classrooms and studios for career and performing arts programs, as well as a focus on creating a healthy and energy-efficient learning environment. It was designed by Dekker/Perich/Sabatini and built by Nunn Construction.
LEED Gold certification awards projects points based on criteria such as water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and materials and resources. LEED Gold, the second-highest award, is one of four possible distinctions.
The school was required to meet certification as stipulated by the Building Excellent Schools Today grant, which financed the bulk of the school’s construction costs. Funded by the Colorado Department of Education, BEST grants have allocated nearly $1 billion for new school construction.
“The new M-CHS delivers on our promises to the community and our students,” district Superintendent Alex Carter said in a statement. “It provides healthy, comfortable learning spaces with incredible daylight and mountain views. The project respects the taxpayer investment and will save energy, water and operating costs over the life of the building.”
The structure includes a geothermal mechanical system and solar panels. Other environmental aspects of the project include recycling 90 percent of all construction waste, using recycled concrete as a base material for the parking lot, installing wooden doors that contain recycled materials, utilizing structural steel that contained a quarter of recycled materials, and fitting LED light systems throughout.
Estimated energy savings of more than 36 percent are expected, based on the building’s structure, heat pump mechanical system, and 45 kilowatt photovoltaic system, according to Dekker/Perich/Sabatin.
Water use is reduced by 64 percent outdoors and 40 percent indoors.
The design included recycling 82 percent of construction waste, using recycled content for more than 20 percent of building materials, and more than 24 percent of building materials from regional sources. To improve student performance, more than 90 percent of occupied areas have outdoor views, 80 percent use daylight to LEED levels, and learning spaces were designed to reduce background noise, and noise between rooms.
“Buildings are a prime example of how human systems integrate with natural systems,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of USGBC. “The M-CHS project efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come.”
The schoolhouse, including land acquisition, architectural designs, inspection fees and construction costs, totaled almost $41.4 million. A $22.2 million Colorado Department of Education BEST grant and an $18.9 million local 20-year bond measure funded the development.