The Rapidian

GRPS LEEDs state in green-build schools

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Cesar E. Chavez elementary School received LEED Certification earlier this year.
Chavez E. elementary school dedication ceremony.

Chavez E. elementary school dedication ceremony. /GRPS

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Chavez E. elementary school was designed to include sustainable strategies to reduce its environmental impact.

Chavez E. elementary school was designed to include sustainable strategies to reduce its environmental impact. /GRPS

Chavez E. elementary school exterior rendering.

Chavez E. elementary school exterior rendering. /GRPS

Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School, located at 1205 Grandville SW, was officially awarded LEED Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) on May 24, 2011.  LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the USGBC’s leading rating system for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy efficient, and high performing buildings. 

Chavez Elementary School is the fifth Grand Rapids Public School to receive LEED certification.  Sibley Elementary was Certified first in June of 2008; followed by Harrison Park Elementary and Middle School in September of 2008, Gerald R. Ford Middle School in May of 2009 and Burton Elementary and Middle School in November of 2009.  GRPS has the largest selection of green-built, LEED certified schools in the entire State of Michigan and ranks among the most in the nation.

Chavez Elementary was designed to achieve LEED certification for energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies.  LEED verifies the environmental performance, occupant health and financial return of a facility. Chavez Elementary was designed by Kingscott A.E. and constructed by Triangle Associates, Inc.   

LEED certification of Chavez Elementary School was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community.  These features include:

  • Chavez Elementary has a roof rain garden that uses rain water to grow plants and grasses, diverting excess water from the sewer system.  In addition, the roof rain garden reduces the roof temperatures in the summer.
  • Low emitting adhesives, paints, carpet and wood were used throughout the building to enhance indoor air quality.
  • Day light windows and curtain walls increase the amount of natural daylight in classrooms, offices and hallways, decreasing the need for artificial florescent light.
  • Each room is equipped with occupancy sensors used to control lighting and promote energy conservation.
  •  A state-of–the-art heating and cooling system provides optimum comfort for occupants and energy savings for the District. 

The Grand Rapids Public Schools District made a commitment to incorporate environmentally sustainable practices in their new buildings and major renovations at the start of the 2004 voter approved Bond Construction. This has resulted in five LEED certified buildings and numerous green practices throughout the District.


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It's great that we've got so many LEED certified buildings in GRPS but can we get any of them to recycle?  Burton Middle/Elementary is LEED certified, but during my stint as a substitute teacher, I noticed that there is no recycling program there.  Other buildings have some recycling programs but often it is just for white paper and even that is inconsistent.  Considering we live in a city that offers free curbside pickup, it seems like we could get a district wide, comprehensive recycling programs going for a minimal cost.  But there's no money for that.  After all we need to pay the GRPS PR guy $100k a year and our superintendent $197k a year (not to mention financing a contract making it outrageously expensive to fire him.)