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?