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Hickory Hills Breaks Ground on Springfield's First "Green" School

Hickory Hills School held a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for the Springfield Public School District’s first certified “green” friendly school. KSMU’s Brett Moser reports.

Right after The Hickory Hills School choir sang a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” students, teachers, and project workers overturned ground to plant a tree at the site of the new school, which is already under construction on East Division Street.
The planting of the Hickory tree was symbolic in more ways than one, given the school’s name and the fact that the new facility will be the first environmentally friendly school in the district, according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification standards.
Unlike the current school building on East Trafficway, the new 118,000 square foot project will feature “green” technology, from the renewable materials used in the construction process to cost-effective heating and cooling.
Christopher Ball is the head architect of the project. He says the new buildings will focus on environmental concerns – like energy efficiency-right in the classroom.

Ball says, "The classrooms all have the ability to obtain natural light from the outside without direct glare or sun. And then the lights are switched with photo cells, so they have the ability to automatically adjust up or down. It allows you to control the correct light levels without having to remember to turn light switches on or off."

On the school grounds, a storm water basin will be filled with plants designed to filter rain water before it absorbs into the ground. Ball says the basin will also be used as an educational wetland with a boardwalk extending across for students to study plant life.
The Springfield School District expects the school’s Kindergarten through eighth grade students will start classes in the new building by January of 2010.
Jim Dow is the Interim Director of Business Operations for the district. With a price tag of 19.6 million dollars, Dow says going “green” sometimes means paying more up front.

Dow says, "There is an initial cost premium to go 'green.' You get that money back in the long run through energy savings and health savings."

Dow adds student safety is one reason for the move. He says traffic at the intersection of Chestnut Expressway and Highway 65 was hazardous for students walking to school. The land where the existing building sits is under contract to be sold as commercial property.
For KSMU News, I’m Brett Moser.