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SPRING, TEXAS — Construction is under way in Spring for one of the greenest schools in the Houston area. Gloria Marshall Elementary School is being built to LEED-Gold specifications and has already been approved for the EPA's Energy Star award. The project will also meet the criteria for the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, the nation's first green building rating program designed specifically for K-12 schools.

Designed by the Houston office of SHW Group, the school will rise two stories and contain 105,000 square feet of space. One of its most innovative features is a geothermal HVAC system expected to save the school 25 percent in energy consumption over a traditional HVAC system. Classrooms will feature south-facing windows that will take advantage of daylight harvesting, and light sensors will dim and brighten the room's lights depending on the level of sunlight present — which is expected to keep classrooms lights turned off 75 percent of the time.

Renewable energy options for the school include an on-site wind turbine and photovoltaic solar panels located on the roof. The building's roof will also be a reflective white to lower the amount of solar heat absorbed by the building. The exterior of the school will feature a science garden and an eco-pond at the building's entrance, along with an above-ground rain cistern and water trough. An underground cistern will harvest rainwater from the roof to use in the bathrooms. Finally, the landscaping for the building will use no irrigation, and trees that were removed as part of the construction process will be recycled into desks, benches and tables for the school.

Completion is slated for August.

— Coleman Wood

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