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SPS Going Green as New Sherwood Elementary Approaches Final Stages

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Missouri Sun Solar
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Installation of a 20kW solar panel system on Sherwood Elementary was completed the end of April 2015.

Construction on Sherwood Elementary School in Springfield is on track to be completed in time for the fall semester.  It will be the first school within Springfield Public Schools to run on solar energy and one of few like it around the country.  KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has the details.   

Sustainability and affordability are two of the core goals for the new Sherwood Elementary School building, slated for completion in mid-July.  Brad McKenzie, architect with Sapp Design, says the exterior is nearly complete as the last of the windows are being installed and base rock is being laid for the parking lot.  The interior of the building, McKenzie explains, is broken down into wings, with one of the classroom wings nearly complete with paint and tile in place.

One of the things that will set this school apart is the energy efficient design.

“It’s what’s considered Netzero capable.  And basically what that means is in order for a building to be Netzero it produces as much or more energy than it uses,” explains McKenzie.

High efficiency glass allowing in more natural light, a high efficiency heating and air conditioning system, and an electronic system that shuts down when not in use are a few of the unique features to save energy.  Solar panels are what will provide most of the building’s energy.

Katy Thruman, communications director with Missouri Sun Solar – which partnered with SPS on the project - says solar panel installation is complete.  She says a 20kW solar panel system has been installed on the school’s roof along with a six-panel elevated display in front of the school.  Thurman explains that in addition to reducing energy use within the building, being able to create and store energy with solar panels makes a building virtually independent.

“On those sunny days you are going to produce more [energy] and feed that energy you’re producing into the grid and hold it there—kind of like a battery backup—as credit.  So on days like cloudy days or at night time when you’re pulling energy from the grid,” says Thurman.

In addition to being the first Netzero capable school in southwest Missouri, McKenzie explains the school has other features that set it apart like a FEMA safe room.

“This is the first school—I believe the first school in the state [of Missouri]—and one of the few in the country that has the Boys and Girls Club actually integrated into the school,” says McKenzie.

The building cost is roughly $14.5 million and is one of several school improvement projects approved by voters as part of the 2013 bond and tax levy.

Sherwood Elementary is slated to open August 11th ahead of the 2015-2016 school year.  

Theresa received her undergraduate degree in sociology at Missouri State University, as well as her Master's degree in Social Work at MSU. Theresa enjoys writing, drawing, reading, music, working with animals, and most of all spending time with her family. She wishes to continue to use her experiences, combined with her pursuit of education, to foster a sense of empowerment and social awareness in the community. Theresa loves working with KSMU and attributes her passion for NPR, and love of learning, to her father.