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US's Largest Net Zero School Welcomes Students in Irving, Texas
“This structure blocks the hot Texas summer sun from passing through classroom and other windows while still allowing natural lighting,” notes Fabral. “In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, the rays pass directly through the windows, providing warmth and heat to the building. The width of the canopy was determined by analyzing the sun angles during the times and months when students are in their classrooms.”
Since the school serves as a learning laboratory, the regular K-12 cirriculum has been supplemented with lessons that focus on the school’s energy-efficiency. As noted on the school’s interactive website, “Elementary students may study the differences in solar energy production on a cloudy day versus a sunny day, while high school students may calculate the school’s average geothermal output.” Additionally, there is a viewing platform on the roof so students can examine the photovoltaic array, and energy monitors are placed throughout the hallways so students can see exactly how much energy the school is using at any given time.
In constructing the building, the school district’s main concern was energy use, but they are also seeking LEED certification. Lady Bird Johnson Middle School is not only a beautiful structure, but also a perfect example how green design can be incorporated into our everyday lives as an educational tool. Here’s hoping that more schools around the country follow suit.
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