HEAD OF THE CLASS
Using a comprehensive green building approach, Hermitage Elementary School was completed about $800,000 under budget, earning honors as a high-performance, sustainable building, including the 2006 Virginia Green Innovation Award from the Virginia Sustainable Building Network. It is the first Virginia elementary school to earn United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Most importantly, student attendance is up.
Hermitage Elementary replaces the original 1964 school. Only the gym was salvaged for an art, band and special-projects facility. While the design began as a "template" elementary school, the design team included sustainable, recyclable and energy-efficient materials and systems. The green approach was driven by Virginia Beach City Public School leadership.
Green features specified include energy and water efficiency, locally recycled materials, mass transit access and indoor environmental quality. Trane provided an integrated HVAC solution including a Tracer Summit ES™ building automation system, Series R™ air-cooled chiller and a variable air volume (VAV) air distribution system.
The VAV system delivers precise amounts of conditioned air, avoiding energy waste. The Tracer Summit ES system precisely monitors and controls indoor air temperature, humidity and fresh air delivery while optimizing energy efficiency. Joe DiPaola, Trane Norfolk sales engineer, said, "Virginia Beach City Public Schools had confidence in the efficiency of Trane equipment based on a strong relationship of many years."
The project is a short-term and long-term financial win. John Kalocay, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Support Services, said, "The construction budget was about $10.1 million. Final cost was $9.3 million. Hermitage was built at the same time as a traditional elementary school across town, but Hermitage’s overall costs were lower." First-year energy costs were 10 percent less than the benchmark school—equal to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the building’s life.
The green approach has also impacted the school’s learning environment. Kalocay said, "We’ve had increased attendance from children that frequently missed school due to asthma or other respiratory problems. It’s a better environment for people who spend most of their waking moments in this building. It’s the right thing to do."
John Kalocay, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Support Services, added, "We believe it is up to us, as educators, to set an example for the students, staff and community. Sustainability is not a flavor-of-the-month issue. In addition to teaching and practicing good stewardship towards the
environment, we also have an obligation to the tax payers that fund these projects. This means that we look at long-term costs associated with these buildings, as well as initial cost. When you take all of these factors in to account, then Green buildings are a very viable option."