Gilbert school ‘green’ in more ways than 1

Energy Matters0

Gilbert school ‘green’ in more ways than 1

Hayley Ringle, Tribune

July 10, 2009 – 7:06P 

Having it's own water chilling system on campus allows  Gilbert's Campo Verde High School to keep their air conditioning system cooler and cheaper.

Having it’s own water chilling system on campus allows Gilbert’s Campo Verde High School to keep their air conditioning system cooler and cheaper.

Darryl Webb, Tribune

Although the Campo Verde High School name was not chosen for the “green” elements found throughout the Gilbert campus, it’s even more fitting that the school has green in its name because of all the energy-saving details.

Former Gilbert Unified School District governing board member Elaine Morrison said she chose Campo Verde, which means “green field” in Spanish, because of the area’s farming and cultural history.

When freshmen and sophomores start at their new school on Aug. 10, they’ll walk under green, patina-coated metal walkways throughout the campus, which provides shade for them and keeps the buildings cooler, said Dave Tucker, the project manager with CORE Construction, the company building the school. CORE is a member of the United States Green Building Council.


The exterior windows have 1-inch-thick, insulated glass, and those not shaded by the walkways have green, patina-coated aluminum shades, which reduces cooling and heating costs. The windows also have interior window blinds, and students will notice more windows in their classroom to let in more natural light.

As students walk into their new classrooms, the motion-detector lights will turn on; when they leave, the lights will turn off.

A campuswide lighting control system will give school staff an opportunity to easily turn off various lights around campus to reduce energy costs, Tucker said.

Gilbert governing board member Helen Hollands said she is “thrilled” the board chose to put “green” elements into the district’s fifth and final high school on the northwest corner of Germann Road and Quartz Street, just west of Val Vista Drive off the Santan Freeway stretch of Loop 202.

Hollands was board president in February 2008 when the board approved the $1.4 million in “green” elements.

The school cost about $52.8 million to build, with an additional $4.7 million for nearby road improvements.

“I think it’s important that we are conscious protectors of our environment,” Hollands said. “Personally, I wish we could have gone further, but we have to balance it with the money we have available.”

The green grass on the football field is made of synthetic turf, which requires little maintenance. There’s no need for fertilizer, mowing, and repainting the lines on the field since the yard markers are actually sewn into the turf, Tucker said.

Water is only used to cool and clean off the $500,000 field, which is another savings. Eight water cannons on the perimeter of the field can spray water onto the field to cool it off for the Campo Verde Coyotes, the school’s mascot.

The turf will last 15 years, Tucker said, and sits next to the six baseball and softball fields, six tennis courts and three basketball courts.

“It certainly is an absolutely beautiful facility, and I understand from a maintenance standpoint we will realize quite a bit of savings,” Hollands said. “Yes, from a capital standpoint it’s more expensive, but long term we don’t have those maintenance and operations expenses.”

Besides the “green” aspects of the turf, since the field is not real grass, it can be used year-round for practice, band and soccer, and even after rain, without tearing up the field. This also eliminated the need for two practice fields, Tucker said.

Students eating outside under the dining canopy will be cooled by solar-powered fans.

“I like that the students will be able to see it in action,” Hollands said.

Desert landscaping replaced several lawn areas throughout the campus, although there is still lots of green grass for the students.

A “state of the art” central air conditioning plant is in a large room in back of the cafeteria and is the “most energy efficient” to cool the campus, Tucker said.

The fields and landscape are irrigated with nonpotable water, and faculty bathrooms have two-stage flushing.

Students will also have a “very cutting-edge technology” educational tool with the opportunity to see the electrical consumption the school is using by accessing a Web site, Tucker said.

A 400-kilowatt solar panel array could also be placed on top of the cafeteria and an adjacent classroom building to tie into the power grid and save even more money for the school. The school board is still considering the extra costs for the solar panels.

“This is the first high school we’re (CORE Construction) building with synthetic turf and sonar panels,” Tucker said. “As the technology improves and items become more affordable, ‘green’ elements will become more common.”

The 60-acre, 250,000-square-foot school also has an amphitheater with seating capacity for 725 people, a main gym with three basketball and three volleyball courts, and a practice gym with an additional basketball and volleyball court.

The school also has a dance room with mirrors covering three walls of the room, a weight room next door, and several rooms for orchestra, band and choir.

To continue the greenness of the school, students chose copper and dark green as the school colors.

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