Sustainable Construction Goes To School

In Palm Bay, FL, Energy Star-rated Odyssey Charter School sets the course for sustainable school construction in the state.

July 15, 2008 |

A charter grade school in Palm Bay, FL – which recently achieved the U.S. Government’s Energy Star rating for high performance buildings – is serving as a model for new sustainable school building in the state.

The Odyssey Charter School is a pre-K through 8th grade school designed in ArchiCAD by Spacecoast Architects P.A. of Indialantic, FL. The 47,000-square-foot building potentially serves as a prototype for a series of new eco-friendly schools, with high energy efficiency, to be built in Florida.

The Palm Bay school was rated 95 out of 100 through the Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager, which ranks a building’s energy performance against similar buildings nationwide. The architects achieved this energy efficiency through optimized site orientation, extensive use of day lighting, thermally efficient materials, advanced HVAC technology, and clever energy demand management strategies.

The second prototype school, to be built in Orlando, is expected to achieve a perfect 100 rating through the addition of thin-film solar photovoltaic panels and automatic lighting controls. Odyssey Prototype-2 will have an annual energy savings of 6,212,241 kBTUs and reduce CO2 emissions by 361.6 tons.

The Odyssey Charter School was evaluated through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star Challenge program. Applying an ArchiCAD BIM model, the Challenge criteria enabled Spacecoast Architects to confirm the validity of their multiple energy savings design decisions, said Lawrence Maxwell, AIA, the firm’s president.

"A sustainable project like the Odyssey Charter School is achieved by collaborating at the beginning of design to flesh out key strategies, and then coordinating the project so that site, structure, materials, and mechanical systems can function together," said Maxwell. "A 3-D ArchiCAD model facilitates that level of collaboration and project coordination. The result is a building in which students benefit from proper day lighting, natural ventilation and cleaner air. On top of that, the community gains by having lower energy bills to fund, lower absenteeism, higher academic performance, and a Florida A+ school rating."

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