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Sam Nickels, Director, Center for Health and Human Development


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/

22 Supports Acknowledged

Sam Nickels, Director, Center for Health and Human Development over 5 years ago

Once a year thousands of Harrisonburgonians make a small donation to the BIG ONE FUND, and a selected organization receives the one time only donation. This is a way for innovative ideas to get off the ground with start-up funds, or a value-added program to get off the ground in an established organization. 2000 donations of $10 is $20,000! A diverse committee of Hburg resident volunteers would select the project from submissions. In fact, we could limit the donation to $10 so that the goal becomes involving as many community members as possible in the effort. A non-profit could facilitate the work, while the City, School Board, and local businesses and United Way could promote the effort among employees. Criteria might include: How big an impact will this new program or organization have on our community (or those in need, if the program is international)? How many people would benefit? Does it contribute to longterm sustainable development? Is it an innovative solution to a real problem?

4 Supports Acknowledged