Published On: Wed, May 6th, 2015

Galaxy E3 Elementary becomes first school in Florida to earn LEED Platinum status

By School District’s Public Affairs

BOYNTON BEACH – Galaxy E3 Elementary School can now add Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification to its list of accolades for its “green” campus – a first for a Florida public or private school.

Earning LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council – the highest certification available – is a significant achievement for Galaxy E3, which has worked to earn a reputation as an environmentally friendly, state-of-the-art school with a curriculum focused on energy, environment and engineering. Galaxy E3 opened in August 2013, replacing the 53-year-old school that had been on the site.

“As principal of Galaxy E3 Elementary School, you can see the pride in all the students, teachers and community members who always knew Galaxy E3 was one-of-a-kind,” Principal Edmund Capitano said. “The LEED Platinum designation is an amazing achievement that places Galaxy E3 in the upper echelon of being an energy efficient, eco-friendly school center that will make a lasting impact in conservation and sustainability.”

To earn LEED Platinum certification, a project must earn 80 or more points from the council’s rating system; Galaxy E3 earned 81 possible points.

Galaxy E3 was designed by Zyscovich Architects of Miami and built by Pirtle Construction of Davie. To earn LEED Platinum certification, the team had to incorporate environmentally friendly practices and standards at the school, as well as implement innovative programs to help control costs. The 109,000 square-foot campus features solar power, preferred parking for electric cars, a four-acre natural habitat in conjunction with the City of Boynton Beach, and a two-story Wonderment Center with interactive exhibits that reinforce the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math focus.

“From the beginning, we realized there was a unique opportunity for us to take this school project to a new level of performance by blending two missions—academic achievement in math and science and environmental sustainability,” said Jose Murguido, corporate vice president for Zyscovich Architects. “We were gratified that the School District of Palm Beach County and the City of Boynton Beach were with us on the challenge. Galaxy E3 is and will always be a truly amazing school.”

Said Gary Pirtle, vice president at Pirtle Construction, said Galaxy Elementary was built and designed to provide world class education framework around Energy, Environment and Engineering.

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the School District of Palm Beach County and the many team members to construct this unique school,” he said. “Most rewarding for us is that Galaxy Elementary is a groundbreaking 21st century educational platform to enhance the educational experience for the children.”

Environmentally conscious construction is now the district’s policy; new construction projects in the district must follow stricter environmental requirements required for LEED certification. There are currently nine district-operated schools with LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and one other certified by the Florida Green Building Coalition. LEED certification is pending at four other schools.

Pine Jog Elementary School in West Palm Beach was the district’s first LEED-certified school, earning Gold certification in 2009. After that process, “when we saw how innovative and how comprehensive that certification was, it was almost a paradigm shift,” said Paul Strauss, the district’s director of Environmental & Conservation Services.

“This planning process is so much more comprehensive than regular construction,” Strauss said. “This is just a new way of looking at construction in general. It forced us to look at a lot of really new, emerging technology for energy use.”

The benefits of the extra efforts are the energy savings – LEED schools use approximately 35 percent less energy than other district schools. Learn more about the district’s LEED and Green Building projects on the Environmental & Conservation Services section of www.palmbeachschools.org.

 

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