The EPA’s ENERGY STAR® program last week recognized The Monarch School’s new green building as exemplary with the EPA’s rare and coveted “Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR” (DEES) designation. The school’s Chrysalis building achieved a score of 86 out of 100, meaning it ranks among the top 14 percent of buildings in the United States. This building is designed to use 33 percent less energy and carbon than an average, comparable building, saving more than $170,000 and nine million kilowatt-hours in energy over the next 25 years. The efficient design also qualified The Monarch School as the first private school to receive a cash rebate — $2,300 — in CenterPoint Energy’s SCORE program.
In the coming weeks, the Chrysalis building will become the new campus for The Monarch School, a national leader in therapeutic education for hundreds of children with neurological differences, many of which are related to autism.
“We’re excited about our students’ future, and about promoting a healthy, sustainable Texas,” said Head of School and Founder Dr. Marty Webb. “As we began planning the future of the thousands of people who will use this building in the next century, we were delighted to find that energy-efficient design could be another affordable, practical way for The Monarch School to serve more families, better.”
The Chrysalis building will use 33 percent less energy and carbon than an average, comparable building, which will save more than $170,000 in energy bills over the next 25 years. The 9,000,000 kilowatt-hours saved are the annual equivalent of the greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 1,200 passenger vehicles, or the electrical usage of more than 900 homes.
Dr. Webb said, “This DEES designation confirmed that our early decisions to bring together an experienced ’green team’ have helped our donors’ contributions go farther today and over the coming century.” The sustainable design team included:
– Architects: Jackson & Ryan Architects
– Green Building Consultants: Green Building Services, Inc. (GBS)
– MEP Engineers: Wylie & Associates
– Energy Modeling: BVM Engineering
– Civil Engineers: Brewer & Escalante
– Structural Engineers: Matrix Structural Engineers
– Acoustical Engineers: HFP Acoustical Consultants
– Landscape Architects: TBG Partners; Home & Habitat
– Green Electricity Broker and Sustainability Consultant: Momentum Bay Associates LP (d.b.a., GREEN POWER 4 TEXAS)
The school also earned a cash incentive of more than $2,300 from CenterPoint Energy’s SCORE Program, which rewards participants for incorporating energy-efficient design into new and existing buildings, specifically for more efficient lighting, HVAC and building envelope systems. The Monarch School was the first private school allowed to join the program.
The Chrysalis building is expected to help the utility avoid nearly 6,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years, and reduce peak demand for electricity significantly, by saving:
– more than 12 kW in electric demand above ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2004 requirements for lighting and HVAC, and
– 30,558 kWh/yr in energy, roughly the annual electricity used by three average homes in Houston
The efficient design complements the school’s ongoing sustainable operations strategies of conservation, energy efficiency, hybrid transportation and green power. For example, The Monarch School’s two existing campuses approached a zero carbon footprint over the past three years, largely by purchasing 100 percent green power. The new campus has also contracted for 100% green power, continuing The Monarch School’s commitment to the EPA’s Green Power Partnership and 100% Purchasers group.
“With electricity and green power prices at six to 10-year lows, our little nonprofit has found it quite economical and practical to approach carbon neutrality and strive with others for clean air and a healthy, sustainable Texas,” said Dr. Webb. “While market research, case studies and anecdotes have confirmed a zero to three percent premium for the design of green schools and green buildings over the past decade, this DEES designation confirms that our building’s energy savings alone may yield the equivalent of nearly a 14 percent-off coupon on our design professionals’ fees. That’s a healthy value.
“When other school administrators ask ‘How was The Monarch School able to secure cash rebates, energy savings and avoided emissions?’ I answer two factors: a great team and great tools,” shared Dr. Webb. “First, our design team members pursued exemplary design throughout the project. For example, we committed to pursuing LEED® for New Construction certification for not only the Chrysalis Building, but also the entire campus’ future buildings.
“Second, we wanted to articulate these benefits for our students, families and donors and set ongoing operating budget goals,” continued Dr. Webb. “The EPA’s Target Finder tool and DEES designation helped us quantify and communicate much of the LEED-NC benefits long before we could receive LEED certification for the campus. In fact, the energy modeling required by DEES may have propelled the project into a higher level of LEED certification.”
Dr. Webb concluded by saying, “Achieving the DEES designation is still quite rare nationwide and in Texas, with just over twenty DEES buildings in Texas. What that fact means, though, is that our team merely followed the lead of other rational, forward-thinking Texas neighbors. And, that decision really paid off. ‘Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR’ clearly makes business sense for commercial offices and even schools.”
About The Monarch School
Founded in 1997 by Dr. Marty Webb, The Monarch School is now one of the nation’s leading schools that provides an innovative, therapeutic education for children ages 3 to 25 years old. It serves the needs of children with neurological differences, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, PDD-NOS), Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Tourette’s Syndrome, Mood Disorders (Bipolar Disorder, Depression), Anxiety Disorders, and other neurological differences. With a ratio of 2.5 students for each teacher/mental health professional, the school develops individualized plans to help each student make progress in the school’s four core goals: executive functions, relationship development, self-regulation/self-awareness and academic competence.