New Mexico School Teaches Environmental Responsibility

Located on the Navajo Nation reservation in Prewitt, New Mexico, The Baca/Dlo'AY Azhi Community School was designed to promote environmental responsibility. By using a variety of energy-efficient strategies, the school, which comprises nearly 80,000 square feet and serves students in kindergarten through the sixth grade, uses 20 percent less energy than a comparable conventional facility meeting minimum ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) standards. To reduce the cooling load in the summer, the building is painted with light colors, all windows employ low-emissivity coatings, the building shell is well insulated, and the building itself is designed to provide appropriate shading to reduce heat gain and glare. The facility incorporates extensive daylighting in combination with occupancy sensors that ensure that lights are on only when necessary, and the HVAC system uses variable-air-volume air handlers to maximize cooling and heating efficiency. Finally, all of the building’s systems are controlled by a sophisticated energy management system to ensure that the building will continue to perform effectively.