Royal Oaks Elementary School
The new Royal Oaks Elementary School is roughly 100,000 square feet in area and houses 32 classrooms. This A+ School of North Carolina was designed for 800 students on an 18.5-acre site.
During early stages of design, the team thoroughly evaluated the site to determine how to most effectively utilize natural daylight in order to decrease occupant dependence on artificial lighting. The building was oriented with most of the classrooms facing the south, taking advantage of the sun for daylight as well as warmth during the winter. Classrooms and offices utilize vacancy sensors with manual on, and other areas utilize occupancy sensors with automatic on. All lighting in this project is LED. Daylight sensors were installed in all classrooms, and light shelves in south-facing windows reflect daylight deeper into the classrooms, reducing the need for electric lighting. Additional daylight is brought into the building through use of tubular skylights.
Royal Oaks Elementary School was able to install a 223-kW photovoltaic array on the rooftop of its academic wings. The anticipated annual electricity production is approximately 328,000-kWh (more than 60 percent of the building’s anticipated annual electricity demand). The school’s energy-efficient systems are expected to cut energy usage by 1,207,230-kBtu annually, equating to a savings of over $36,000 every year.
Water-efficient plumbing fixtures are expected to generate water savings of 225,802 gallons annually. A 7,000-gallon above-ground cistern supplies captured rainwater for playing field and garden irrigation in addition to serving as an educational tool for students and staff.
Seventy-five percent of all new wood products were made with FSC-certified wood. Twenty-two percent of the total value of construction materials were made up of recycled content, and 44 percent of the total value of construction materials were regionally sourced. Throughout construction, 840 tons of construction waste was diverted from local landfills – that is 90 percent of all construction waste.
Curriculum was developed based on the high-performance features of the building, which explores the relationship between human ecology, natural ecology, and the building. Faculty and staff members met several times throughout the year preceding the school opening to learn about the building’s sustainable design features and determine how best to utilize them as an education tool for students.
This was the school district’s first LEED project, and the outcome has set the bar for future schools in the area.
The Royal Oaks Elementary School photos were a mixture of shots collected by Peter Brentlinger and Blair Steinmetz.
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