Gorilla Design is building the first net-zero school in Utah. The new Sego Lily School located at 427 West 4800 South in Murray, will incorporate energy efficiency including solar and wind power. When it is completed, it will produce more than enough energy to meet its own needs.
Sego Lily School is a private, non-profit school based on the Sudbury School model, a model in which the children run the school. When the school was deciding to expand, they brought the questions to the students.
“This is how the kids told us they want to go to school,” Roi Maufas of Gorilla Design said, standing in front of 100 solar panels generating 24 kilowatts of power that will provide a covered parking area and power to the new school.
“Adults were having the discussion about the viability [of alternative energy],” Maufas said, “And the kids were like, ‘Yeah, we already know about the sun and wind. We’re not sure about coal and gasification.'” The school will also have a wind turbine.
The students had several ideas for what should be included in their school. Alyssa Kay of Gorilla Design and adjunct faculty at SLCC said there were the usual suggestions adults would come to expect from children, like a playground. However, a commercial kitchen, art room and science room were also “high on the list.”
While looking at the plans for the new school, one of the children asked about the foam room – a room where the children can work out their energy in a safe environment. When he was told that there wasn’t a foam room being planned, he said he couldn’t go to a school that didn’t have a foam room. The designers added it to the plans.
The children did not neglect the animals in their plans. Their concern for their pets became incorporated into the architectural design.
“You know you’re really considering architecture when you talk about the bunny,” Maufas said.
The school will exceed current safety standards and have a greenhouse and a garden. Maufas and Kay lived through the destruction of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, so it was important for them to “create an island that can withstand a natural disaster that people can come to where power, food and water will still be available.”
The land where the new school is being built has a high groundwater table that could make the property susceptible to flooding and Gorilla Design incorporated the water into their plans by using a system that takes the water out of the ground on one side of the property, pumps it through the school to provide heating and cooling, and dumps it back into the groundwater table on the other side. This makes the ground more stable and the school more energy efficient.
“I’m really hoping that we can provide a solution with both the Sudbury model and the net-zero school,” Maufas said, “to fix our educational system and deal with our energy problems.”
The new Sego Lily School building will increase the school’s capacity from 49 to 150 students and is expected to open for the 2012-2013 school year. The school founders and grants have supplied about half of the funds needed for the school construction.
Those wishing to support the first net-zero school in Utah, can visit segolilyschool.org to make a donation.