4 Safer Texas Educational Buildings Built with Sustainable Design
Sustainability plays an important role in creating safe educational spaces for today’s students. Creating safer, more sustainable schools entails taking the physical and mental well-being of teachers and students into consideration, along with the materials and building systems used to construct the space. We found some great examples of sustainable design here in Texas that have created safer, healthier schools for their teacher and student populations.
Deer Park High School, North Campus
Deer Park High School North Campus, Deer Park ISD Architect: cre8 Architects
The North Campus of Deer Park High School went through a series of additions over the past several decades, resulting in a “sprawling facility” that wasn’t conducive to a unified, collaborative learning environment. Designers from cre8 Architects made updates to the space that brought daylight to 85% of the structure, allowing for a healthier learning environment and access to nature. Updates to the school’s mechanical systems helped to reduce the school’s operational costs, and features like the school’s new science garden (with a rainwater collection cistern) add to the eco-friendly design. Older elements of the building were still preserved, and the designers incorporated these into the new space for consistency and a nod to the school’s architectural history.
Purple Heart Elementary
The renovation of this elementary school was a fun and innovative approach to sustainability in educational spaces.
The halls and rooms of Purple Heart Elementary feature colorful designs, daylighting, and movable partition walls to allow flexibility in the space. The school’s renovation by VLK Architects featured a concrete tilt wall construction and reflective roof material, both of which reduce heat build-up and provide better insulation for the building.
By implementing LEED standards, low-maintenance products and materials, and natural daylighting, the designer was able to reduce maintenance and operating costs for the school.
Sea Scout Star Base Galveston
Sea Star Base, Galveston Architects: Randall-Porterfield Architects Inc. & Shipley Architects
The Sea Scout Star Base Galveston building is a marine learning center in Galveston on the Texas Gulf Coast designed to facilitate and teach aquatic programs to students.
The team from Randall-Porterfield Architects Inc. and Shipley Architects were met with the challenge of designing for the harsh weather conditions in the region. The Bautex integrated insulated concrete wall system walling system was used, in order to provide energy efficiency and sound proofing, as well as ensure the education space could withstand the severe coastal climate.
The main 5‑story dormitory building on the Sea Star Base campus also incorporates a vegetated roof and a large rainwater collection system. The Bautex Wall System has superior acoustic properties and is manufactured with recycled content. The block features EPS (expanded polystyrene), which encases the concrete and acts as continuous insulation creating a stable internal temperature. The high-performance Bautex wall system and many other sustainability features help to
The Bautex Wall System provided Sea Scout Base with the benefits of high energy efficiency and superior indoor environmental quality, helping to drive the project toward its LEED-certification goal.
Roy Walker Elementary
Roy Lee Walker Elementary in McKinney, TX has been called a prototype for “Eco Education” school design.
Architects from SHW Group incorporated sustainability in all aspects of the school’s function and life cycle, with support from sustainable design consultants from Innovative Design. Design features include:
wind and solar energy, which help reduce climate control costs
a rainwater harvesting design
daylighting, which reduces the need for fluorescent light
corridor technology that uses the thousands of square feet of hallway space for collaboration and learning activities
While building sustainably poses a challenge to today’s architects, the demand for healthier and safer spaces (especially for students) is growing. Luckily there are some impressive and innovative spaces already incorporating environmentally-responsible practices for the industry to learn from.
Have you seen any educational facilities that impressed you?