RUSKIN — The Hillsborough County School District will construct its first LEED-certified school on an educational campus that is already home to Lennard High School and Hillsborough Community College's SouthShore campus.
The as yet unnamed elementary school, on 13 acres once owned by the Dickman family, will house approximately 950 students and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
The LEED designation will fit with the HCC campus, which is LEED certified.
The school board approved the $18 million project over the summer and hired Tampa-based Wilder Architecture to plan and design the facility, and Batson-Cook Co. to oversee the construction. The two companies are experienced in green building.
"We don't have anyone on our construction staff certified as a LEED professional, so the selection of Wilder Architecture and Batson-Cook is a very strong one," says Rory Salimbene, the school district's general manager of construction.
"Their education experience and the significant experience they've had working with our school district, combined with a good LEED background, make them the best qualified for this particular school."
Batson-Cook's list of notable renovation projects include Leto, Plant and Gaither High, plus construction of FishHawk Creek, Frost and Summerfield elementary schools.
"We've had a successful track record working cooperatively with Wilder Architecture, so they know we'll get the job done well," said Batson-Cook's Dave Marshall.
Wilder has planned and designed Gary Adult High School, and upgraded Potter Elementary School and the historic Hillsborough High School.
"The school district has been practicing sustainability for a long time," notes Larry Wilder, Partner at Wilder Architecture. "Now, we're going through the formal process and this will set the standard for the future."
Construction of the school, due to break ground around July 2013, has been part of the school district's five-year plan and is part of the mixed-use development of land regulated by the state under a Development of Regional Impact, or DRI, that includes the neighboring South Shore Corporate Park.
Although the planning for the school is still in the early stages, Salimbene said the school district has developed a scheme that includes three, two-story classroom buildings with an east-west orientation arranged to form two courtyards.
Plans also call for a single-story building housing the administration offices and a media center, a separate one-story cafeteria and multipurpose room, and playfields and playgrounds on the west and north side of the school.
Some of the school's proposed features credited for LEED involve enhanced lighting controls and use of daylight, waterless toilets and low-flow plumbing fixtures, Florida-friendly landscaping requiring little or no irrigation, a reflective roof and a variety of measures to increase efficiency of the air-conditioning system.
The district is also considering the feasibility of expanding the cooling plant at Lennard High School using thermal ice storage to provide needed cooling.
"Our focus is on measures with little or no first cost implementation as well as those proven to save money in the long run," Salimbene said.
Access to the school will be off E Shell Point Road, west of Lennard, with separate entries proposed for cars and buses. Preferred parking spaces will be available for carpools, low-emitting and fuel efficient vehicles and bike racks.
The parking will be in an area that has the potential for joint use with a future Hillsborough County park that is being considered immediately north of the school property.
Approval for the overall schematic design is tentatively scheduled for the Nov. 13 school board meeting. Several public meetings will follow early next year to gather input for boundary changes that are needed to accommodate the new school.
"This will be our most technologically advanced school, with smart projectors in each classroom, and a wireless network throughout the school," Salimbene points out.
School officials say the new elementary school is well situated to take overflow students from nearby Cypress Creek and Ruskin Elementary schools if necessary.
For now, there are no plans to build a middle school in the tri-campus area.