It takes a village to build a school in Colorado's Poudre School District (PSD). And that's what helps PSD consistently receive recognition for innovatively using energy-efficient design.
PSD's Rice Elementary School achieved Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR certification in 2006 and went on to earn the ENERGY STAR label in 2008, an accomplishment Stu Reeve, PSD Energy Manager, credits to an integrated approach to design.
In PSD's experience, collaboration breeds the most energy-efficient designs. When architects and engineers work with local utility companies, they can account for the building's specific rate schedule, enabling the building to operate at minimal utility cost.
As a result of this collaborative attitude, firms were required to assemble design teams, which included architects and engineers, to bid on the prototype design for PSD elementary schools. PSD then gathered utility companies, government agencies, and commissioning agents. The design teams were required to meet with the PSD team as part of the bidding process to ensure that all parties would work well together.
PSD also works with national labs and organizations, such as the Institute for the Built Environment, which provide research and guidance on cutting-edge technology. "There's a difference between cutting edge and bleeding edge," Reeve explained. "So we work with people who really know what they're doing."
Reeve said that he thinks setting goals from the beginning of the design process is the key to achieving energy efficiency. That's why the design phase for Rice included robust energy modeling, which was used to calculate a score in the Target Finder tool, a component of EPA's energy performance rating. Target Finder measures a project's intended energy use. Later, once the building is occupied, the owner can use Portfolio Manager to compare the operating building's energy use to the design intent.
When building owners specify their energy goals through a desired Target Finder score, the design team has something to pursue. Then, when the operating building goes on to achieve that score, as validated by Portfolio Manager, the building owner has something to show the community. "If we can say this was our target, and this is what we actually achieved, the community is a lot more supportive," Reeve said.
Architect of Record
Fort Collins, CO
Poudre School District
% Energy and CO2 Reduction*
2006 / 2007
Estimated Site Energy Use Intensity
Estimated Annual Energy Use Intensity
Estimated Annual Energy Cost
Ground source heat pumps; recycled carpeting; tower indirect cooling and direct evaporative cooling; CO2 and CO monitors; smart controls for airflow, temperature, and lighting; wheat board; natural lighting; spray foam
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Poudre School District