The School of the Future
A new elementary school at Fort Campbell, set for completion in 2016, draws on a leading-edge design that combines 21st Century Education Principles and energy-efficient systems to create a high-performance learning environment—one that will serve as a model to follow for future Department of Defense Education Activity schools.
By Doug Brown, P.E., PMP, LEED AP BD+C, M.SAME, Tony Hans, P.E., LEED AP, RCDD, and Steve Skaggs, P.E., M.SAME
Barkley Elementary School at Fort Campbell, Ky., is one of DoDEA’s first 21st Century Education schools in the United States. Targeted for completion in 2016, the new K–5 learning center will be constructed of materials and include high-performing systems designed to consume only one-third of the energy of comparable buildings. IMAGES COURTESY WOOLPERT
The Barkley Elementary School in Fort Campbell, Ky., is one of the first schools designed under the Department of Defense Education Activity’s (DoDEA) new 21st Century Education charter, an initiative that seeks to provide modern learning environments that facilitate a wide range of educational and instructional techniques.
Targeted for completion in 2016, the new K–5 school will replace its 1955 predecessor with a learning center constructed of materials and high-performing systems that will consume only one-third of the energy of comparable buildings. Barkley’s new design will provide students with opportunities to interact with the building’s multiple sustainable systems—allowing the school itself to be used as a teaching device.
Barkley is the first of five DoDEA 21st Century schools to be designed and constructed in Fort Campbell in the next five years. The project, led by Woolpert as designer of record, has been approached with a focus on setting an example for the other 21st Century schools that will follow.
Collaboration among the project owners (DoDEA, the DoDEA Design Center, and both the Norfolk and Louisville Districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) along with other project contributors, including the Fort Campbell Directorate of Public Works, consultants and user groups, has been an essential element in the project’s execution to date.
For instance, the mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineering firm’s experience designing nearby Richardsville Elementary School, the first full-scale, Net Zero energy school in the United States, has served as a real-time frame of reference for all parties involved. The team has used it as a baseline for what is possible when designing Barkley’s high-performance characteristics.
DESIGN FACILITATES LEARNING
The design team incorporated multiple elements that support 21st Century Education philosophies, with the primary goal to create an environment with spatial arrangements that accommodate multiple learning and teaching techniques.
21st Century Education principles prescribe the formation of learning areas, neighborhoods and studios that foster a student-centered approach, whether the student prefers team activities or individual study. Barkley’s spacious design encourages hands-on activities, real-world problem solving, and project-based learning. It also affords teachers the flexibility to utilize team teaching methods and incorporate a variety of instructional approaches.
The building’s large commons area is an inviting open space that will serve as a welcome gathering place for the students throughout the school day. Along with the gymnasium and information center, the commons area also will serve as a community center for all residents on post after school hours.
21st Century Education principles prescribe learning areas, neighborhoods and studios that foster a student-centered approach, whether the student prefers team activities or individual study.
REDUCING ENERGY CONSUMPTION
A decision to incorporate high-performing building systems was driven by the team’s initiative to propose drastic energy reduction strategies while adhering to the project’s budget. Fundamental energy consumption areas have been analyzed and benchmarked, identifying key targets to achieve energy reduction goals. These include envelope design, lighting and daylighting strategies, and HVAC system selection.
The building design follows ASHRAE’s Advanced Energy Design Guide for K–12 schools and achieves significant energy consumption reductions compared to baseline standards. All components also were considered within the context of another fundamental project goal to provide students with opportunities to interact with the building’s sustainable systems.
Lighting and Daylighting. The building is designed in an east-west orientation to allow abundant natural daylight to flood the southern learning spaces, while tubular lighting devices harvest sunlight on the north side of the building. Artificial lighting fixtures throughout the facility will augment the natural daylighting and establish a balanced lighting approach, reducing total wattage per square foot. The team selected LED lighting fixtures for both the interior and exterior of the building that promise to deliver a nearly 50 percent reduction in interior lighting and a 70 percent reduction in exterior lighting loads.
Geothermal HVAC. The building will utilize an advanced geothermal, ground source heat pump with distributed pumping and a dedicated outdoor air system. A demand control ventilation system will reduce energy consumption even further.
Thermal Envelope. An insulated concrete form was selected as the main structure for its speed of construction, high-performance thermal envelope characteristics and overall longevity. This system will be combined with above-industry standard roof insulation, high-performance doors and windows, and a continuous air barrier.
Solar Hot Water Heating. The building’s domestic water heating system will include a central solar water heating package with solar panels, solar water storage heat exchanger tanks, pumps and controllers, minimizing the need to gas heat the water.
These combined sustainable systems hold the potential for LEED Gold certification, as all available energy points were targeted and achieved within budget.
The design team has incorporated multiple ways for students and faculty to interact with the sustainable building elements through demonstration stations built into the building’s systems.
These stations either will be able to be viewed individually as a case study in a lesson plan or visited collectively as a part of a sustainable building tour.
Energy Dashboard. The school will be equipped with a power monitoring system that measures and evaluates HVAC, lighting, kitchen, plug load and IT power consumption individually.
Photovoltaic Array. A photovoltaic array is incorporated into the design to serve primarily as a teaching tool for the students. The 10-kW system utilizes crystalline photovoltaic modules, which are to be mounted on the canopy leading into the school. The system will directly connect to the grid through the main switchboard and be separately metered for real-time readings of energy production in kilowatts. It also will be displayed on the energy dashboard.
Tubular Daylighting. Students will be able to view the tubular lighting systems to learn how sunlight is harvested to augment the artificial lighting.
LEED Signage. Systems, materials and features that contribute to LEED certification will be highlighted throughout the school with signage that describes the environmental benefits of particular elements.
Mechanical Room Panel. A clear panel on one of the mechanical rooms will provide a window into the geothermal HVAC system’s operation.
Green Roof Area. A portion of the roof is designed as a dedicated green area and will be made accessible to show students how it absorbs heat and processes storm water.
21ST CENTURY EDUCATION
Throughout the project, the design team has never lost sight of its goal to build an innovative school that offers an exemplary educational experience for Fort Campbell’s future generations of elementary students.
Through its many sustainable systems and its 21st Century Education format, Barkley Elementary School will provide an opportunity for students to have hands-on access to a leading-edge curriculum and an interactive learning environment—one that will remain flexible, adaptable and sustainable for decades to come.