Sandy Grove Middle School
SANDY GROVE + CREE = NET POSITIVE ENERGY USAGE
At Sandy Grove Middle School in Lumber Bridge, North Carolina, students not only get an education in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math subjects at this STEM school. They also attend classes in their very own environmental laboratory and learn first-hand the benefits of a new concept in sustainability for educational institutions — a net-positive school building that produces more energy than it consumes. The school even has a working energy dashboard that tracks the performance of the facility’s green elements, enabling teachers to use the building itself as a teaching tool.
Developed by Firstfloor and sister company SfL+a Architects, Sandy Grove is a public/private partnership and the first energy positive school in the nation to be financed out of its own expected energy savings and then leased to the school system. The building, designed for LEED-platinum certification, is projected to save the county $16 million on its energy bills over the life of the building.
As Dr. Freddie Williamson, Superintendent of Hoke County Schools, states: “Being from a high-growth, low-wealth county, it was critical for Hoke County Schools to approach the construction process of our newest school in a way that would be speedy, efficient and cost-effective.” The Sandy Grove project was designed for maximum energy efficiency with one of the key components being the use of high-efficiency LED lighting. However, LED wasn’t the initial vision for the lighting solution. As Barry Buckman, Principal with SfL+a, explains, “The project was originally designed around traditional fluorescents.” But a chance introduction to Cree — one of the industry leaders in LED lighting technology — led SfL+a down a path they’re now following with all other projects.