My hometown of Boulder, Colorado, is a leader in green everything. It's because I grew up there that I've been recycling since the 1980s, and the city has only gotten greener since then (more on that here.)
So it's not entirely surprising that a middle school in Boulder (not the one I attended) would be one of the first two in the country to receive a platinum rating (the highest) from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. LEED is known as the most rigorous green certification program for houses, office buildings, etc., and in 2006, they started a program for schools as well. That same year, Boulder Valley School District passed a $300 million bond package that included $33 million to renovate historical-and-stately-but-kind-of-tired Casey Middle School.
(Photos shamelessly snagged from Casey's oh-so-green website.)
With the help of an additional $1.8 million from the Boulder City Council for green upgrades, school officials got to work reimagining the school, keeping the 1924 facade while bringing the rest of the building into the 21st century.
In 2010, Casey reopened.
Students riding their bikes to school can park under these carport-like structures that support nearly 27 kilowatt hours of solar panels:
But that's just the outside. Inside the school, features range from low-flow plumbing fixtures to a geothermal system with 68 heat pumps and countless loops running 370 feet underground:
(For comparison, our geothermal system has one pump served by three loops.)
The school's electricity needs are reduced by over 100 solar tubes...
...and daylighting windows galore.
Can you imagine having that view out your middle school windows? (I had that very view from some of my high school classrooms, but there were vastly fewer windows. In fact, it was said that my high school was designed by an architect who specialized in prisons...but maybe that was just certain students' editorializing about their high school experience.)
There's even a green roof, which not only keeps the building cooler but also provides educational opportunities for the students (you can see six of the solar tubes poking out from among the plants):
And then there are the other measures that Casey is taking, unrelated to LEED. Through the local recycling organization's Green Star Schools program, Casey and 28 other area schools are teaching students to reduce, recycle, compost, and generally become more aware of their impact on our world.