Written by Claire Bloxom   
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 11:04

SHW Group designed Gloria Marshall Elementary School to meet LEED and Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) criteria; Has already been accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to receive an ENERGY STAR rating due to its energy-efficient building designSHW Group's Houston studio, one of the world’s largest educational architecture and design firms, has completed the design for the new “green” two story, 105,000-square-foot Gloria Marshall Elementary School for the Spring Independent School District near Houston.

Currently under construction, the new school will open in August 2010. It will be the first school in Houston to use geothermal heating and cooling, which is expected to save at least 25 percent in energy consumption over the current code.

The school was designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification and has already been accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to receive an ENERGY STAR rating due to its energy-efficient building design. In addition, SHW Group designed it to meet criteria for Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), the nation’s first green building rating program especially designed for K-12 schools. The mission of the CHPS is to facilitate the design, construction and operation of high performance schools— environments that are not only energy and resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and containing the amenities for a quality education.

“Spring ISD considered repeating an existing floor plan for Gloria Marshall Elementary School,” said Jody L. Henry, LEED AP, project manager for SHW Group. “During the design process, the district questioned SHW Group about daylighting, energy efficiency and water conservation. That discussion led SHW to produce a green design concept.”

In order to save the district additional construction costs and also deliver a school that responded to the district’s needs and intentions, SHW Group re-designed the plan, transforming it into a two-story, sustainable, high-performance school, without adding any additional costs to the district’s capital budget.
Once complete, Gloria Marshall Elementary School will be a rectangular building oriented with long sides facing north and south. Each classroom will have natural light and the south-facing classrooms will take advantage of daylight harvesting. In addition, the building was designed to have lights off in the classrooms 75 percent of the time, so each room will have sensors that turns the lights on and off based on the levels of natural light in the room.

The entry to the building will be alongside a science garden and eco-pond that includes an above-ground cistern and a water trough. These can be used to teach children integrated concepts about math and science that allow for real-world experiences. Under the parking lot and playgrounds is a geothermal well field that will house a system of tubes and valves that take hot and cold water in and out of the building. Through the use of a web-based learning tool, students will be able to interact with the building systems and know the temperature of the water as it leaves the building and when it returns from deep in the earth.

Additional green features include a highly reflective white-colored roof, an on-site wind turbine, 10,000-kilowatts of roof-mounted photovoltaic cells (which will convert sunlight directly into electricity), a butterfly garden along a walking trail, and an underground cistern that will collect rainwater from the roof and be used to flush toilets and urinals. Also, trees from the existing site will be reused in the building as desks, benches and conference room tables. The school will also use less water by having no irrigation and many of the materials used for its construction will be made with recycled content or made of rapidly renewable resources. With all of these sustainable amenities, the school itself will act as a tool for teaching and for learning.

"Spring ISD has been a fast-growing school district for several years, and we have a philosophy that 'instruction drives construction.' We are excited about the opportunities this new school will provide for our students to learn about conserving resources," said Dr. Ralph H. Draper, Spring ISD superintendent.

“There is no greater advantage to a LEED school than using it as a teaching tool for our next generation,” added Henry. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:
Nicole Traycoff, PR Manager; 214.473.2424; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Claire Bloxom, PR Rep for SHW Group; 214-329-9191; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 February 2010 11:26