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Project File: Thinking green

The design of Pleasant Ridge Elementary School, Cincinnati, is expected to serve as a model for others to follow for its leadership in sustainable design and architecture. The school will be a 75,310-square-foot facility for 550 students from preschool to eighth grade. It will be constructed on the school's existing 7-acre site and is scheduled for completion in early 2008.

The school's exterior will have minimized pitches in the roof to blend with the existing urban neighborhood, and the roof will be light in color to reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption. Additional green space also will be incorporated, providing ample space for outdoor activities while complying with green building standards.

Special energy-saving components include solar panels, an under-floor HVAC system and natural light. Utilities and mechanical systems such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning will be run through the floor, providing a more comfortable and healthier education environment. The combination of efficiencies minimizes the school's energy usage by 22 percent.

To help students understand the environmental impact of the building, the mechanical systems operate behind large glass windows accessible from the hallway. The mechanical room also includes monitors that students can read to observe the energy usage at their school.

The architect for this project is Steed Hammond Paul (Cincinnati).

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