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The Daily Tar Heel

Northside Elementary to have eco-friendly features

When Northside Elementary opens its doors this fall, it will show off a number of green features while also embracing the site’s distinct history.

The school, built to alleviate overcrowding in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, will have a rooftop garden, an electronic dashboard to track electricity and water consumption, and natural sunlight in every classroom.
Northside Elementary will return to the site that previously housed the Orange County Training School, an all black-school, in the early 1900s.

The school is still under construction, but Ashley Dennis, the site’s project manager, said everything is going smoothly.

“Some of the exciting things that we have at this school include a green roof off the science classroom,” she said. “And solar tubes which … bring light down to all the lower levels of the classrooms from up above.”

Starting fresh, going green

Dennis said there was a huge push to go green so that the three-story school could cut down on future heating and cooling costs.

She said the sky lights will bring down electricity costs, because on a sunny day they will serve as an alternative to lights.

“We’re using a lot of bamboo on the gym floor, reception desk and display cases,” she said. “We’re using a material that is readily renewable versus something that takes a long time to grow.”

Dennis said many of the environmentally friendly features will be used as teaching tools. She said her favorite feature is the interactive touchscreen dashboard.

“We’re able to track the water usage and the power usage and a bunch of different things like that,” she said. “The teachers can access that on the internet in their classrooms so they can constantly be teaching what the school is using.”

Steve Nally, construction administrator for the project, said the school hopes to become certified gold in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design by the U.S. Green Building Council. The elementary school would be one of the first in the county to receive the prestigious certification, he said.

Nally said his team is also focused on reducing construction waste by recycling 90 percent of the site’s waste.

He said the project is on time and under budget.

“We will be completely done with construction by June 15, then we can start loading the building with furniture,” he said.

Past and present

CHCCS spokesman Jeffrey Nash said the district is proud to continue the history of education in Northside.

“Our goal is to celebrate the past and embrace the future, and I think this building does a great job of compiling the two,” he said.

And Nash said the long history of the site will be integrated into the new school.

He said the school’s main staircase will feed into an area featuring a historical timeline exploring how the location has been used for education.

Nash said he hopes students will get a lot out of the data dashboard and the use of solar energy and conservation.

“I think this is going to be a school that other school districts around the state are going to want to emulate,” he said. “I think this is going to be a real leader in the state for school construction.”

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