Cherry Creek School District goes green | VailDaily.com

Cherry Creek School District goes green

AARON COLE
The Aurora Sentinel
Aurora, CO Colorado

AURORA, Colorado – The concept is almost elementary: if you’re looking to learn something about green building techniques, what better place to start than school?

That’s what the Cherry Creek School District is saying about its approach to earning an Energy Star certification for all its schools.

“We are going to have all of our buildings go through that application program,” said Scott Siegfried, assistant superintendent for the district. “We want that to be a big part of how we identify and communicate with our community, that this is something that we take seriously.”

Three buildings – Dakota Valley, Holly Hills and Holly Ridge elementary schools – have earned the mark.

According to Siegfried it’s a distinction all the schools will strive to achieve in the future. Siegfried talked about how the district is implementing alternative energy technologies during a Board of Education meeting last month.

From sugarcane lunch trays to recyclable carpet, the district is taking several steps to save energy at its schools – including cooling a new elementary school with ice.

The school, under construction in southeast Aurora, will make ice during the evening and use it to cool the school during the day.

“It’s just a way to make the energy you need overnight so you can use it during the day and not pull energy off the grid during the day when its at its peak demand,” Siegfried said. “It’s just a way to save some energy and to make our buildings run a little more efficiently.”

Siegfried said the approach would only be used at four-track, year-round schools on the east end of the district.

Several other schools are using other means to help save money during the summer months.

The district is working to coat the roof of its schools with a white membrane that will help the buildings stay cool. Additionally, several schools have buried HVAC systems that Mike Langlett, executive director of auxiliary support, said would more efficiently cool the buildings.

“If we’re pulling our air from an area airwell that’s underground or below, we’re dealing with a different temperature, we’re not going to be pulling the heat off the top of the roof, and then you have to condition that when you bring it inside,” Langlett said.

Siegfried highlighted several methods for the board, including seeding the unused playground spaces with more water resistant Colorado native grasses rather than using Kentucky bluegrass and recycling asphalt and concrete in parking lot overlays.

Siegfried said programs like asphalt recycling have saved the district thousands of dollars.

Last year the district recycled 1,480,000 pounds of concrete and 9,000 tons of aggregate used asphalt.

“That’s what we look at in these programs, is what’s the cost benefit?” he said. “We don’t want to run out and jump on the newest technology that isn’t proven or doesn’t have a reasonable payback.”

In fact, Langlett said several schools built after 1995 already use technology that help those buildings stay energy efficient.

The more expensive projects in the district include the pilot programs that use solar technology.

A new elementary school in the southeast corner of Aurora will use photovoltaic cells to power the window shades, and Smoky Hill High School’s indoor swimming pool will be heated by solar energy.

Although Siegfried said the payback on both projects is long, he said the devices would serve as a proving ground for future expansion within the district.

“We want to look at the company and the actual device on the schools to see how it interacts with the mechanical systems we have and how useful it becomes for us,” he said.

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On the Net:

Cherry Creek School District: http://www.ccsd.k12.co.us/Schools/