IRVING, Texas — The largest net-zero public middle school in the country — and the first in the state of Texas — opened its doors in 2011. The Lady Bird Johnson Middle School boasts impressive energy-efficient installations including geothermal wells, solar panels and wind turbines. However, the school is also an example of simpler, yet noteworthy, energy-efficient installations.
The $29 million school produces as much energy as it consumes through the use of efficient technologies and on-site power generations.
Roller shades help minimize the school’s need for artificial lighting and also manage solar heat gain to reduce loads on the school’s HVAC systems, helping the school reach its net-zero status. Hunter Douglas Contract provided the RB 500 motorized roller shades and worked closely with the project’s architectural firm of record, Corgan Associates Inc., to create a daylighting plan that cuts the school’s reliance on artificial lighting.
The architects chose the roller shades due to the size of several of the facility’s glass expanses, including segmented glass in the library’s rotunda.
The roller shades operate through motorized controls and all 33 shades in the cafeteria and library operate through a single switch in each room. The motors only use 28 amps to control, which is less energy than required to run a standard refrigerator, according to a statement by Hunter Douglas. The total cost of $45,000 for the library and cafeteria roller shade installations proves that energy efficiency can also be cost efficient.
“The Lady Bird Johnson School’s use of RB 500 motorized roller shades contributed significantly to the creation of this incredible learning space,” said Christopher Hagen, regional sales manager of Hunter Douglas Contract Window Coverings. “We hope that the environment surrounding the students sparks their creativity and raises their awareness of the benefits of an eco-friendlier school building.”
The 150,000-square-foot school can also thank the roller shade installations, along with other green features, for potentially higher test results, according to architects.
“Students in learning environments that feature daylighting performed 19 to 26 percent better on standardized reading tests than students in classrooms without these features,” said Susan Smith, vice president of Corgan Associates, in a statement. “With access to natural light for two or more years, they score 14 percent better on all tests.”
The school is focused on its mission of being a sustainable campus and invites students to participate by incorporating two Siemens Greentouch monitors in the school’s entrance hall that display energy consumption, as well as four interactive science nodes — sun, earth, wind and water — to educate students and visitors.
Construction manager Balfour Beatty Construction worked side-by-side with design teams to ensure students benefit not only from the design and construction, but also understand the importance of sustainability.
“The school contains learning areas that will allow students to see some of the net-zero systems at work, such as geothermic heating and cooling and rainwater collection,” says Scott Layne, assistant superintendent for Irving Independent School District, in a statement.