The City is currently planning the construction of a multi-million dollar middle school to accommodate the growing number of student in our school system. I believe that the City should take a long-term view of the cost and usefulness of this building, and as such should strive to make it LEED certified (or equivalent) and a Net Zero Energy Building, meaning that it produces as much energy each year (on average) as it uses. Doing so would decrease the long-term costs to taxpayers, insulate the City from future increases in energy prices, promote sustainability, and enhance our children's educational experiences by creating a modern, forwarding looking building that incorporates scientifically and technologically sound building practices. Depending on the financing mechanism chosen, a LEED/Net Zero building need cost very little or no more initially than a conventional building, though I would encourage the City to focus more on long-term costs than simply the bottom dollar up front. If we as taxpayers have to invest a few extra dollars now in order to save many more dollars for years (decades) to come, isn't that the best choice?

The architects have been selected, but the school design has not yet been set. The firm chosen has experience in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and LEED, including with K-12 schools. Please join me in asking our School Board, City Council, and other city leaders to make the new middle school LEED/Net Zero. It is the best choice for our city, our children, and our future prosperity.

For more thoughts about why a Net Zero middle school would be a good idea, see this blog entry by a local architect with expertise in this area: http://harrisonburgarchitect.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/why-build-a-zeb-middle-school-in-harrisonburg/

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Public Information Office admin over 5 years ago

Harrisonburg City Public Schools also just posted a survey for members of the community to take regarding the planning phase of this project. The survey is open until December 15, 2013 at 5:00 PM and is available at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/HCPSCommunitySurvey.

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Charles hendricks over 5 years ago

Why settle for building a school to a minimum standard. Schools last for 50+ years and we need to pay through taxes to maintain them and supply their energy needs. Building a school that reduces energy usage and maintenance needs is smart for any community. These standards also address indoor environmental quality helping us provide a safe and healthy place for the next generation to grow and learn.

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Andrew Kohen, Prof. Emeritus of Economics over 5 years ago

It is crucial that we think about the long-run consequences of building this school, and not focus exclusively on the short-run costs of doing so. People with the expertise have made it clear that the long-run results of building an LEED/Net Zero Energy school are huge.

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Earl Martin over 5 years ago

comment...I think it would be great to have a "energy free" school not only for the long-term savings, but also for the empowerment this would give to our students who would be more inclined to pursue such possibilities when they become professionals and make decisions. Such a school would also boost the image of our city.

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Andrew Hershberger over 5 years ago

Energy efficiency measures and onsite generation through low maintenance equipment, such as grid-tied solar energy systems, should always be utilized to reduce long term operational costs. These should be planned into the budget and initial design for new building construction or renovation to an existing structure. If it is not properly estimated or included in early stage project budgets, the unanticipated cost of the equipment will be a burden to the project. Our tax payer base covers this long term cost and we should invest in our community.

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