31 JULY 2013

HISD Proves Commitment to Sustainable Design through EcoSymposium

Houston Independent School District’s commitment to sustainable design extends beyond mere rhetoric. To prove their dedication, they recently hosted the district’s first EcoSymposium and invited every architect currently working on bond projects to attend. Approximately 75 architects and designers attended the event at Berry Elementary School, eager to discuss sustainable school design. Moderated by Kirksey’s Director of EcoServices, Julie Hendricks, the symposium sought to emphasize the importance of sustainable design and identify guidelines to be incorporated into current and upcoming projects.

Led by HISD’s General Manager of Facility Design Dan Bankhead, the HISD team emphasized the importance of the current bond work and its ability to shape the future of HISD and the City of Houston. Bankhead shared the district’s goal that all new schools in the 2012 bond program achieve LEED Silver certification. Robert Sands, the district’s Construction and Facilities Officer gave a passionate presentation detailing HISD’s expectations for 21st century sustainable schools and Anisa Baldwin Metzger, Green Schools Fellowship Program Manager for the U.S. Green Building Council, presented the latest research about green schools. Participants were then divided into ten groups for two 30-minute work sessions. Each group was assigned a discussion topic and was charged to develop several goals pertaining to the discussion topic. Groups then switched discussion topics and prioritized the goals developed by the first group.

After several hours of brainstorming workshops, participants produced an initial list of sustainability guidelines to be utilized for all bond projects.  Ideas that were identified and highlighted include utilizing passive free strategies for energy savings, such as thoughtful building siting, orientation, and façade design, benchmarking energy use via submetering, and designing building envelopes for a 75-year lifespan. Please see HISD's blog for more information: http://blogs.houstonisd.org/news/2013/07/30/architects-help-craft-sustainability-goals-for-new-hisd-schools/  
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