Seeing green at Condit: Campus earns coveted LEED silver status for design

Condit Elementary School has received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for its new building, which was constructed as part of HISD’s 2012 Bond Program.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED certification provides independent verification of a building’s green features and is the most widely used green building rating system in the world.

Green schools offer improved air quality, lighting, temperature control, and acoustics, as well as reduced operating costs — all of which enhance the overall learning environment and have been shown to boost student health, test scores, and faculty retention.

VLK Architects designed the $24.3 million building, which features a centralized learning commons surrounded by a two-story cluster of classrooms and innovative 21st century design elements with bright colors, curved walls with seating nooks, and plenty of natural light.

The design enables the building itself to be used as a teaching tool by integrating historic relics from the original school and incorporating wall graphics along with a sundial-like feature to illustrate the seasons using sunlight from windows.

Tim Kunz, principal with VLK Architects, said other LEED design elements in the project include natural daylighting in all classrooms, high-efficiency air conditioning and heating systems, acoustical panels with soft materials to absorb excess noise, and the use of low maintenance building materials.

“LEED Silver is a great accomplishment for the entire design team,” Kunz said. “It’s important for the district and the school, but ultimately the students benefit.”

Bankhead said LEED certification is also important because sustainable buildings ensure that schools are healthier, more productive, cost less, and create less stress on the environment.

HISD now has 24 schools that are LEED certified, including 10 with LEED Silver certifications, and one — Cunningham Elementary on South Rice Avenue just north of Bellaire — that is Gold certified.