The new Kiowa County Schools campus held its grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on August 16 in the varsity gym of the facility. Lit by natural daylight, the gym was the perfect setting to give folks their first taste of the school's many sustainable features. Superintendent Darin Headrick, School Board President Ki Gamble, and a host of other speakers were generous in their praise of the enormous team effort that got the school opened in time for the fall semester.
The school is built to LEED for Schools Platinum standards. The $52 million complex is all but paid for - and without a local tax increase or bond issue! The Kiowa County Schools project has been making splashes in the media all throughout the country since last week. We even caught mention of the event on The Weather Channel a few days ago.
It's hard to know where to start in listing the sustainable elements of the school, as there are so many. The school features a 50 kilowatt wind turbine, and a geothermal heating and cooling system consisting of 97 wells each dug 410 feet into the ground in a closed loop system. Reclaimed wood is used extensively, inside and out. Interior hallways and classrooms feature wood re-used from old barns in Kansas, and the exterior is built from cypress wood that was reclaimed after Hurricane Katrina. Some of the building envelope consists of SIPs (Structural Integrated Panels).
There are 5 cisterns (4 above-ground and 1 below) which hold a total of 121,000 gallons of water, enabling the school to capture rainwater and re-use it for watering the native landscaping. The school is flooded with natural daylight, and when the lights do have to be turned on, they are energy efficient and controlled by sensors. The floors are polished concrete, which are very durable and low-maintenance.
For those readers interested in technical data related to projected energy savings and the like, we encourage you to take a look at the document developed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) which lays out many of the school's features. You can also read more at the Sustainable Building Database on this website, which we maintain in conjunction with NREL.
Words cannot adequately convey the feel of the school. On the day of the grand opening, when community folks were invited to roam about the campus as they wished, we overheard many adults commenting that they wished they could go to school here.
The start of the new school year also represents a new era in Kiowa County, whereby all of the county's students attend classes under one roof. The old Greensburg school name, mascot, and colors were retired, starting afresh as the Kiowa County Mavericks.
We congratulate Superintendent Headrick, the school board, and all those involved in the design, construction, and funding of this beautiful, sustainable model school.
To see more photos of the school, visit our Photo Library here.