The Dallas Independent School District will open four new schools next month, and they all have environmentally friendly features to save taxpayers money.
Gilliam Collegiate Academy, George H.W. Bush Elementary, Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary, and Ebby Halliday Elementary will all welcome students for the fall semesters for the first time this August.
"The way you build environmental responsibility is you start with the youngsters and you teach them that," said Dave Patton, DISD's director of design and special projects. "We got to save energy because our energy costs are going higher and higher and higher. You've probably seen the electric bill at your own home."
What better way to teach children to go green than to build an eco-friendly school.
Patton oversaw the construction of the schools and all the energy-efficient features, from the concrete made with recycled materials and native plants that consume less water to the fluorescent bulb inside the reflective light fixtures that use less energy but give off one-third more light than traditional fluorescent bulbs.
The windows are strategically placed to let in more natural sunlight, while solar reflective panels keep classrooms cool during the summer by keeping out direct rays from the sun.
The light-colored roof also reflects sunlight away from the building. And geothermal heating and cooling, using the ground temperature to its advantage, saves the school 30 percent on utilities.
"We do want our students to be environmentally friendly. We will tell them about some of the features. That way we can incorporate it into some of the lessons here on campus," said Joe Estrada, assistant principal.
Some lessons will be hands on. In the restrooms, students can choose to save water with a low-flow flushing option or toss writing paper into a recycle bin in the classroom.
The funding for the new schools came from bond money. A couple of newly refurbished schools also got eco-friendly features.