Following the tornado in May 2007 that destroyed a majority of the town of Greensburg, Kan., including all of the local schools, the local school district chose to combine three rural community school districts into one 131,944-square-foot K-12 facility. The new building, which is targeting LEED Platinum certification, is organized around a courtyard gathering space for all ages. The north wing houses the high school and gymnasiums, while the south wing houses lower school curriculum. Fitness and athletics spaces are designed to meet larger community needs and other spaces are designed to accommodate adult education and senior citizen activities.

The site combines a number of ecological initiatives such as bioswales, constructed wetlands, restored wetlands, and native landscaping. Rainwater from the building is stored in six cisterns to meet irrigation needs during dry months, while the constructed wetlands treat wastewater before returning it to the water table. In addition, condensation from the school’s HVAC equipment (which is powered by a geothermal closed-loop ground-source heat pump) is captured for reuse as make-up water in the cooling towers.

The building is oriented to maximize passive solar and wind opportunities, maintain the existing storm drainage flood path through the site, and emphasize a connection to the community. Operable windows, sun shades and orientation capitalizes on passive lighting and air movement. The building’s longest façades face north and south to maximize daylight and reduce heat gain. The gymnasiums feature sawtooth skylit roofs and the classroom roofs are sloped for future installation of solar panels. One hundred percent of the schools purchased electricity comes from renewable sources, and a 50kW wind turbine provides electricity.

By the numbers:

Building gross floor area: 131,944 square feet
Number of occupants: 410 (plus 10 visitors)
Percent of the building that is daylight: 90
Percent of the building that can be ventilated or cooled with operable windows: 50
Total water used, indoors and outdoors: 762,586 gallons per year
Calculated annual potable water use: 5.61 gallons per square foot per year
Total energy (MBtu per year): 3,652 (simulation case)
EPA performance rating: 43
Percent total energy savings: 60
LEED rating: Platinum (pending), LEED for Schools, 2.0

For more information on each project, including extended slideshows, click on the individual projects in the sidebar at left. To access a database of past Top Ten projects, visit ECO-STRUCTURE will be covering the 2011 COTE Top Ten projects in depth in its July/August issue.