Milby HS awarded LEED Silver certification

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Milby High School has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for its new building, which was constructed as part of HISD’s 2012 Bond Program.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED certification provides independent verification of a building’s green features and is the most widely used green building rating system in the world.

Green schools offer improved air quality, lighting, temperature control, and acoustics, as well as reduced operating costs — all of which enhance the overall learning environment and have been shown to boost student health, test scores, and faculty retention.

“It’s exciting. LEED certification is no small feat, especially when it entails reusing a 1920’s building that was not designed for today’s energy standards,” HISD General Manager of Facilities Design Dan Bankhead said. “When an architect is able to meet the stringent requirements for LEED Silver, that says a lot about them.”

Designed by Kirksey Architecture, the three-story, $79 million project is a combination of new construction and renovation work that preserved the school’s historic front facade while creating a modern learning environment that can accommodate 2,000 students.

Flanking the original main building are new academic wings that contain science and engineering labs and career and technical education spaces for welding, cosmetology, and culinary arts, which includes a student-run restaurant. Other highlights include new administrative offices, an auditorium with a black box theater, a large commons area, and an expansive outdoor courtyard.

“We’re extremely proud that Milby achieved LEED Silver status,” said Colley Hodges, a senior associate at Kirksey. “This is a well-deserved recognition for the project and a testament to HISD’s and Kirksey’s commitment to sustainability, as well as the efforts of a great team from top to bottom.”

Hodges said that preservation of the front portion of Milby’s original building contributes to its impressive sustainability story.

“The re-use of a structure is about as sustainable as you can get,” Hodges said. “Rather than using effort and energy to tear down and transfer waste, you’re giving it new life.”

HISD currently has 22 schools that are LEED certified, including nine with Silver LEED certifications, and one — Cunningham Elementary — that is Gold certified.

LEED-certified schools typically incorporate sustainable building materials and reduce the use of products — such as certain adhesives, primers, and carpets — that lower air quality by emitting chemicals into the environment. Natural lighting, LED lights, and low-flow toilets are also common.

Bankhead said LEED certification is important because energy-efficient buildings ensure schools are healthier, more productive, cost less, and create less stress on the environment.

“We expect all of our architects to develop school designs that will be LEED certified as a baseline. But we encourage them to do even better, to go for that next level of Silver certified,” Bankhead said. “Kirksey has been a great partner on Milby, and we could not be happier with the result.”

Milby is among 40 HISD campuses, including 29 high schools, being renovated or rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond. Half of all 2012 bond projects are now finished and open to students. Once all work is completed, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.

Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest construction updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.