By Jose T. Garza III
When Jim Martin Elementary School opens in August of 2010, it will make history on two fronts.
Martin will become the first NISD elementary school to be built inside the Loop 410 since 1980, but more importantly, it will be the first official “green” NISD school.
Construction, which started earlier this year, is following a strict protocol established by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.
In order to earn a LEED certification, everything about the school must be environmentally friendly, from the recycling of materials during the construction to the energy efficiency of the building once it is completed.
Leroy San Miguel is the executive director of Construction and Engineering for NISD and oversees the entire construction project for the environmentally friendly facilities.
He explained that the district wanted to pursue the project because they wanted to see how a green building would fit into the overall philosophy of the district, which means providing an environmentally friendly environment for the kids and as well as the entire community.
“The district decided to pursue the green certification,” said San Miguel, “and it’s scheduled to receive a silver certification.”
There are four certifications that are allowed in the system, according to San Miguel.
The first one is certified, the next is silver then gold and then the ultimate certification is platinum.
The state legislature is presently reviewing legislature in regards to green buildings, so it’s a step in the right direction for NISD.
Construction of Martin Elementary will cost $19.3 million, which includes about $200,000 to cover the costs of applying for and meeting LEED certification.
The additional cost for applying for the LEED certification will be offset by the savings the district hopes to make on utility bills.
Alamo Architects, which has worked on other LEED certified projects, is the architect for Martin Elementary.
Martin Elementary will have subtle differences compared to Northside’s other elementary schools.
It will be designed to allow as much natural light in as possible, and overhangs placed on windows will provide shade and help keep the inside of the school cool.
Outside the school, there will be more natural vegetation and less grass than other schools.
High-mileage vehicles will receive preferential parking spots.
Other less visible differences include insulated windows and a more energy-efficient heating and air conditioning system.
Northside made a commitment years ago to protect the environment and has established numerous environmentally-friendly practices.
“Northside ISD was green long before it was the trend,” NISD superintendent John Folks said.
With the NISD’s recent achievement in receiving the Bill Sinkin Solar Energy Award for its massive solar panel project at the Northside Aquatics Center, the superintendent has made having an environmentally friendly school his priority.
“Building a LEED ‘green’ school is a responsibility,” Folks said. “We as educators should be at the forefront of teaching students how to take care of our planet. We are doing our small part here in NISD.”