New middle school receives $250,000 grant | SierraSun.com

New middle school receives $250,000 grant

Jeff Clemetson, Sierra Sun

When the new Truckee Middle School is finished being built, it will have the distinction of being one of California’s first energy efficient, high performance schools.

As a part of a program to make schools more energy efficient, the California Energy Commission is granting $250,000 toward Truckee Middle School’s construction. The only other school receiving the grant is the Ceasar Chavez Fruitvale-San Antonio Elementary School in Oakland.

“The Energy Commission wanted a warm weather school and a cold weather school that goes beyond the standard school design,” said Rob Koster, project manager for Truckee Middle School.

Energy Commissioner Robert Pernell said the grants are intended to offset some of the initial costs of designing and building the high performance schools. Such costs are recouped many times over by energy and operational savings, he said.

High performance schools are a new trend in school building construction that outperform today’s building energy efficiency standards by 20 percent. The program also helps designers avoid using hazardous building materials and promotes recycling.

“Some of the materials will either be recycled or can be recycled in the future when the building is torn down in 150 years,” Koster said.

Among its energy features, Truckee Middle School will install geothermal pumps instead of air conditioners and air-to-air heat pumps.

Geothermal heat pumps use the depths of the earth – up to a couple hundred feet deep where temperatures are constant – as the source of heat in the winter or a place to reject heat in the summer.

Building a high performance school is more expensive than a normal school because some of the non-hazardous materials are harder to obtain. “They’re not just sold at Home Depot,” Koster said.

The Truckee and Oakland high performance schools – selected after a competitive process – are the first to be funded by the California Energy Commission.