School Business Affairs December 2019

12 DECEMBER 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS SCHOOLS & SUSTAINABILITY Keeping the Sustainability Promise: Turning Projections into Achievements Setting goals and tracking costs during the design process are keys to building a school that provides a return on investments in sustainability. By Laura Wernick, FAIA, REFP, LEED AP O ne of the most difficult challenges of manag- ing a school building project is achieving the level of operational savings estimated during planning and design while staying within the construction budget. After all, school system bud- gets ultimately rely on keeping the promise of a specific return on sustainability investments. Too often, the pathway from initial goals and cost models to occupancy and operation is confusing and unpredictable. Fulfilling the promise of sustainability begins with the district’s commitment to energy reduc- tion and the willingness of those leading the project to engage in the intensive decision-making process that this commitment requires. Although achieving a highly efficient or even a net-zero energy school is technically feasible for any project, design trade-offs to stay within the construc- tion budget and fulfill the desired goals will likely come up for debate. Success involves making strategic, evidence-based decisions early in the planning and design process. Understanding the full range of options and reliably budgeting for both the upfront capital cost and the downstream savings requires a holistic, real- world approach. Figure I. The Fales Elementary School’s positioning and geometry optimize energy generation from rooftop PV cells and daylighting. RENDERING: HMFH ARCHITECTS