The Girls’ School of Austin Dedicates New Campus, Earns Four-Star Green Building Rating for Efficiency and Sustainability

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Rainwater collection, bioswale and gardens enhance science curriculum for all students, grades K-8

The Girls’ School of Austin dedicates its new buildings and grounds on Sept. 13. It is one of two complete schools in Austin to receive a four-star rating from Austin Energy Green Building.

Austin Energy awarded the school a Four-Star Green Building rating, recognizing its accomplishments in water conservation; indoor environmental quality; construction waste recycling and sourcing of materials; energy efficiency; and native landscapes.

Following a multi-year capital campaign and nine-month construction project, The Girls’ School of Austin board of trustees, administration, families and guests will dedicate its new buildings and grounds on Sat., Sept. 13, 2014 at 10 a.m., followed by architectural presentations and workshops on sustainable design. School tours and workshops are offered until noon on Sept. 13. The event is free and open to the public. [See workshop descriptions, below.]

The main floor of the school’s largest building will be dedicated as Duncan Hall, in honor of benefactor Genny Duncan. Her gifts enabled the school to purchase the former Dill Elementary campus in 2003 and provided the cornerstone gift for its capital improvement project. The school also will dedicate its entrance walkway of engraved granite paving stones given by families and friends of the school.

"On behalf of the board of trustees, I want to acknowledge and thank our generous community of teachers, families, and friends of the Girls' School of Austin who have given their time, their experience and resources to create this 21st century school," says Susie Kelly, chair, board of trustees, The Girls School of Austin. "Together, we imagined a special place for the next generation. We are fortunate to see it unfold, as we watch our girls learn, create and take the risks that develop their intellect and character, preparing them for future success."

Following the dedication, design presentations include “Designing and Building Green Schools” by Michael Cowan, AIA at Haddon+Cowan Architects Collaborative and “Designing Outdoor Spaces for Schools” by Sara F. Partridge, RLA, LEED AP BD+C NDLI, Planning/Landscape Architecture.

The Girls’ School of Austin, the city’s only private, independent school for girls in grades K – 8, began its thirteenth year of classes on Wed., August 27. In addition to its new classrooms, this sustainable campus includes a rainwater collection system, numerous gardens, a nature trail and bioswale landscaped with native plants. Students will monitor the cistern levels and bioswale flows as part of their science classes, and teachers from kindergarten through middle school use the campus’ flexible indoor and outdoor spaces for instruction all-year long.

“Our students and faculty are thriving in their new environment,” says Lisa Schmitt, head of school, The Girls’ School of Austin. “On behalf of the board of trustees, I want to express our deepest gratitude to Genny Duncan and many more donors who supported this project. They believed in our vision for this campus, and we are watching it bloom.”

Austin Energy awarded the school a Four-Star Green Building rating, recognizing its accomplishments in water conservation; indoor environmental quality; construction waste recycling and sourcing of materials; energy efficiency; and native landscapes. The School earned additional points for the exemplary amount of beneficial outdoor space and for incorporating sustainable features into its curriculum.

“This four-star AEGB rating signifies The Girls’ School of Austin’s commitment to sustainability by creating and operating buildings that are not only beautiful, functional and comfortable, but also good for the community and the environment,” said Debbie Kimberly, VP CES, with Austin Energy.

The new campus does not increase the school’s capacity; it changes the entire learning environment for its current student body. The Girls' School of Austin enrolls 150 girls in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.

The Girls’ School of Austin campus is constructed by American Constructors of Austin. Architects are Michael Cowan and Mike Haddon with Haddon and Cowan Architects Collaborative. The project team included LaMette Consulting, DCI Engineering, Big Red Dog Engineering, Land Interactive, Edwards + Mulhausen Interior Design, and ACR Engineering.

Recognized for its rigorous curriculum in arts, science, math and humanities. The Girls’ School of Austin has grown over 2,000 percent since opening in 2002. It has prepared its elementary and middle school students to attend some of the region’s most competitive private and public high schools.     

About The Girls’ School of Austin
The Girls’ School of Austin opened in 2002 and is the city’s first independent school for girls from elementary through middle school. The school is dedicated to provide an intellectually challenging education for girls in a supportive and creative environment. The school’s campus is located in Tarrytown with a faculty of 21 and a growing record of student achievements.

About Austin Energy Green Building
In 1991 Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) developed the first rating system in the U.S. for evaluating the sustainability of buildings in Central Texas. By developing and maintaining its own Austin-specific rating systems, AEGB has the flexibility to carry out Austin’s aggressive climate protection and energy conservation goals. As of 2013, AEGB has rated more than 10,000 single family homes, 85 multifamily projects containing more than 12,500 dwelling units, and almost 200 commercial buildings exceeding 20 million square feet. AEGB is keeping pace with Austin’s tremendous growth with more than 17.5 million square feet currently registered with the Commercial Program.

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Laura Bond Williams
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