Buckeye’s Tartesso Elementary School is receiving high marks, but it has nothing to do with the kids in the classroom.
On Aug. 19, 2010, the United States Green Building Council awarded the 3-year-old school with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for sustainable building design.
Tartesso, a part of the Saddle Mountain Unified School District, is the first fully state-funded LEED Silver School in Arizona with this recognition.
“Having the certification is a big bonus to our district,” said Dr. Deborah Garza-Chavez, principal of Tartesso. “It’s nice to be noticed as a small district by trying to provide the best learning environment for our students and staff.”
The school had just a little more than 200 students upon opening in 2008 and only served kindergarten through 6th grade. Now fully functioning up to 8th grade, more than 600 students walk the halls of a completely sustainable and environmentally conscious building.
Architects and engineers from DLR Group were responsible for the building designs of the school and worked with budgets allocated by the Arizona State School of Facilities Board.
“Before we started designing the facility in early 2006, we brought our team into a brainstorming session where we could evaluate and strategize as to what sustainable products we wanted to use,” said Bill Taylor, a LEED-accredited professional with DLR Group.
The staff and students at Tartesso have a wide variety of energy saving technologies and products that create a healthy learning environment.
In an effort to reduce water shortages, the building design provides a plumbing system that conserves water. All of the boys’ restrooms contain waterless urinals and the kitchen sinks have low flow water fixtures, a reduction that saves half a million gallons of water per year.
The school provides a high performing mechanical system that goes above and beyond state standards.
A completely computer controlled airflow system continuously brings in new air circulation and automatically turns off air conditioning in an unoccupied room. This reduces the annual energy cost by 20 percent, in comparison to a building that just meets the state code requirements.
In addition to significant energy savings, DLR Group improved the indoor environmental quality of Tartesso. The building is positioned so that natural daylight offsets the artificial lighting in all occupied academic spaces, reducing energy and improving the educational environment.
Only low organic compound paint was used and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) free carpets were installed to promote a healthy interior for students and staff.
“[Students] have benefited from not having those harsh smells,” said Angel Tellez, Facilities Engineer for Saddle Mountain Unified School District. “Everything is kid friendly and environmentally friendly and that is improving the learning environment.”
Not only has the school been a leader in sustainable innovations, but it has served as an asset to the economy by purchasing materials from local companies. Ingredients in the concrete were all locally harvested and nothing was shipped long distance.
“This is a place that has students, staff and the community in mind,” said Premnath Sundharam, Senior Associate for DLR Group. “It’s an educational tool for what can be done on limited funds while still making an impact on the environment.”