The Austin ISD’s new Govalle Elementary School achieved the LEED Silver certification and was awarded a 4-star rating from Austin Energy Green Building. AEGB developed the first rating system in the U.S. for evaluating the sustainability of buildings and inspiring many cities to follow.
Located on the east side of Austin and surrounded by single-story homes, the new 80,800 square-foot elementary school is the result of a transparent community-based planning effort spanning two years with the Austin ISD and Govalle community. The result is a community driven school serving 522 students and one that represents its neighborhood, engages its community, and embraces its history and diverse population of learners. The new school was built as replacement for the existing building that did not meet the basic needs of the district’s educational requirements. Sustainability, collaboration, creativity, cultural proficiency, community, and outdoor connections were the driving factors in the design.
Govalle Elementary School has served students since 1931, building on a strong tradition of community engagement to offer a world of opportunities from rich fine arts experiences, engineering, robotics, robust science, technology, math, and sustainability programs. Sustainability is the driving force behind Govalle Elementary School’s mission to provide a high quality and comprehensive education experience that challenges and inspires students to make a positive contribution to the world.
The sustainable features of the school include a water collection system, vegetable and butterfly gardens, rain gardens throughout the site, and other energy saving features. These features serve as a teaching tool for the students and celebrate the community’s long history of respecting the environment. Through careful planning with the school and community, innovative graphics representing specific values of the community were created throughout the school providing an inspiring learning environment for the students. The existing trees were an important and unique feature celebrating the site, which required careful planning and an innovative approach to the site and building configuration. As a result, many of the trees on site were saved providing shade throughout the campus and opportunities for children to learn outside.
- The school’s annual source energy use per square foot falls within the lowest 5% of K-12 schools in the US (data collected by the EPA’s Energy Star Program)
- The school sheds 10% estimated peak electricity
- 40% reduction in parking
- 25.1% improvement in building performance
- 15,000-gallon water storage capacity cistern
- 37.3% reduced water use from baseline
- 95.56% of construction waste diverted from landfill
The school offers limitless opportunities for collaboration, flexibility and hands-on learning. The site and building set an example of conversation and stewardship. The moveable walls, flexible-collaborative furniture and multi-use spaces allows the school to transform collaboration areas for many uses over the years to come.
The design mirrors the modern and flexible environment we live in today, where both collaborative and individual opportunity spaces are the key to success. The school is a tool that can be customized to accommodate different teaching approaches and induvial learners’ preferences.
“When I walked into the building of the school, I saw the excitement on the student’s faces, and they were so eager. They wanted to experience the entire school from the library, to the classrooms, to the cafeteria, and to their outdoor learning spaces. It is wonderful to see their smiling faces because they know this is for them and that’s what matters.” – Stephanie E. Elizalde, AISD Superintendent
Since opening in Spring 2020, the school has become a source of civic pride and a valued community resource. Parents, students, teachers, and administrators have expressed their delight in being part of the design process and their ability to live and learn in the new school.