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?