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New School May Be Greenest in Washington State

Partially powered by solar and windmill energy, and warmed with geothermal heat, Millennium Elementary in Kent, Washington, is the most environmentally friendly school in the state, Kent school officials say.

Designed by CMB Architecture & Planning, the $12 million school opened on August 30. It may be the first Washington school to receive bids electronically, saving stacks of paper and nearly $25,000, since all blueprints were created on CD-ROM.

Though costs for most of the building's environmental features were higher than for traditional systems, school officials expect savings in the long run. The geothermal heat pump, for example, cost almost $200,000 more than a gas or electric system. But with lower maintenance and energy costs, the difference is expected to be paid off in about 20 years, about a third of the building's expected life span, school officials say.

The building's roof-mounted wind turbine and solar panels will be monitored to determine the effectiveness of solar and wind energy. If the system is cost-effective and successful, it will be used more widely in future projects, school officials say.

Millennium also features a five-acre natural wetland, an underground stormwater collection and reuse system for irrigation, and waterless urinals expected to save about 144,000 gallons of water each year.

Seattle Times - 30 August 2000
by Lisa Pemberton-Butler
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