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Sustainable school: Palencia Elementary to save energy, money

8:53 AM, Aug 15, 2012   |    comments
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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Wednesday is the last day for teachers and administrators to prepare Palencia Elementary School for students and parents.

The school will hold an open house on Thursday evening to show off the new eco-friendly building.

"We care about the environment," explained Paul Rose, St. Johns County Executive Director for Facilities and New Construction.

Rose said most of the green features were designed to save the school system money.  

"There is an upfront cost for it, but part of the idea is that it pays for itself," shared Rose.

The building is cooled by a system that makes ice at night while temperatures and energy consumption are lower.  Then, during the day, the system pumps water through pipes surrounded by the ice to cool the building.  That feature should pay for itself in the next five years, Rose said.

The school's roof was made of reflective material to help keep the heat of the sun out of the facility.  Windows were included in almost every room to let in natural light, but at the same time, they include a low-emittance coating that prevents heat from entering the building as well.

Palencia will be the district's first ever Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified school.  

Part of becoming LEED certified is educating people about the building's green features.

"We're going to use the building as a teaching tool," emphasized Principal Don Campbell.

A screen in the lobby of the building will constantly display the school's energy and water usage so that students can track their progress.  Monitoring their consumption will be part of the school's STEM curriculum focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

"If we can teach children about recycling and being healthy and having healthy lifestyles, hopefully that's going to continue through middle school, high school and even when they once become a parent," said Campbell.  

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