The Sussex School in Missoula, Montana is a non-profit kindergarten through eighth grade elementary school founded in 1971. Located on more than two acres, the campus includes the orginal stone-faced farmhouse, classroom buildings, art studio, and multi-use facility that serves as an auditorium and gym. The school has 115 students, 19 full or part-time teachers, and five administrators. From its inception, Sussex School has been a parent cooperative, and each family contributes at least 60 hours per year fulfilling volunteer opportunities, including helping in the classroom, driving on field trips, fundraising, assisting in the office, and doing maintenance and cleaning of the buildings and grounds.
The Sussex School Classroom Addition project (Zip Buildings) includes seven new classrooms in two linked buildings and an extension of the central campus courtyard. The project has achieved LEED Gold Certification in the U.S. Green Building Council LEED for Schools program. Sussex School's new structure is the first LEED certified school building in the state of Montana. The classrooms and courtyard foster intellectual curiosity, enhance creativity and model how to learn and live as members of a sustainable community. The efficient design provides hands-on learning opportunities for Sussex students and for the greater community of students in Montana. New curriculum and associated lessons are based on concepts such as energy conservation, emissions reduction, water and wastewater usage, recycling and reuse of building materials. Construction of this "green" building affirms the school's core values of conservation, education and environmental stewardship, and demonstrates the benefits of the eco-conscious design.
The project started with the demolition of the existing Zip Building that helped divert at over 76% of the overall construction waste from the landfill. For example, the wood products were donated to Home Resource for re-sale to the community. The construction team reused the demolished asphalt roofing shingles for use as fill throughout the site.
The new Zip Buildings include energy efficient systems and equipment, including onsite renewable energy generating 6,384 kWh per year, which is approximately 8% of the electrical load. The new buildings are constructed with many regional, recycled content and low-emitting materials. Notable green features in the Sussex School Zip Buildings include:
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- Location within ¼ mile walking distance to existing transit lines and established residential and commercial neighborhoods.
- 5 bike racks and a shower/changing room are included to allow staff and students to bike or walk to work. Two dedicated bike lanes are provided through campus.
- No new parking was added.
- The campus master plan calls for preserving 15,860 sf of vegetated open space for the life of the building, qualifying for LEED open space and innovation credits.
- The site design reduces stormwater runoff from the pre-existing site runoff by 38.7%.
- Landscape and irrigation systems include native and adapted plants and efficient irrigation systems yielding 62.9% water savings compared to the baseline.
- Water-efficient flow and flush fixtures will yield a 54.6% water savings over the baseline.
- Energy-efficiency measures included exterior wall and roof structural insulated panels (SIP), high performance low-e, wood frame windows, solar photovoltaic panels, high efficiency boiler (93% AFUE), radiant floor heating, natural ventilation and no mechanical cooling system.
- The energy model predicts the building will cost 29.1% less to operate and will use 17.5% less energy than an ASHRAE 90.1-2004 compliant baseline.
- The project will install 24 (210) watt photovoltaic panels which equates to 7.94% site generated renewable energy.
- The project is naturally ventilated and cooled.
- The project was awarded Indoor Air Quality credits for outside air ventilation 30% better than code, low emitting interior finishes for paints, carpets, sealants, adhesives and composite wood, indoor chemical & pollutant source control, lighting quality and views to the outside for all classrooms.
- Sussex School developed curriculum that meets the 'School as Teaching Tool' innovation credit. Students at all grade levels will receive at least 10 hours per year of instruction that connects the buildings to sustainability issues at the school, community, national and global levels.