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South Bay to build county’s first LEED platinum school

One of the greenest and most sustainable education facilities in San Diego is creeping closer to reality, as the construction process moves forward for a new LEED campus in the South Bay.

In a couple years, the campus of Montgomery Middle School will be the home to the county’s first U.S. Green Build Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certified school.

“Ultimately we want to help students excel and succeed academically,” said Jaime Ortiz, program manager for SGI Construction Management, which is overseeing the project. “This is how we are designing the project to be.”

The $22 million project includes constructing a new two-story, 45,200-square-foot building that will replace the existing structures. The new facility will house 16-classrooms, a library, a counseling center, ASB offices and a cafeteria.

To attain the platinum rating, the school will feature a variety of sustainable materials and amenities.

For instance, there will be drought resistant, native and adapted landscaping, along with high efficient irrigation systems. Landscape bio-swales will minimize storm water runoff onto the school and into the sewer system. There will be shaded areas for outdoor classes and activities, and light-colored roofing and “hardscape” surfaces will keep the sun’s rays from heating the top of the building.

Several amenities inside the building will reduce energy consumption, such as a campus-wide energy management system to control the temperature and HVAC system; energy-efficient lighting systems and lighting controls to allow more natural sunlight; and a solar photovoltaic system so that the building can generate its own power.

The project will also recycle 90 percent of the construction waste, and the building will be equipped with a recycling program for paper, bottles, cans and other recyclable waste.

As far as materials go, the project will use safe, durable and environmentally friendly finishes like carpeting with high recycled content, linoleum flooring made from rapidly renewable resources and low-emitting adhesives, paints and finish coatings.

The building will also feature water-efficient, low-flow restroom fixtures, while contractors will use environmentally friendly cleaning products and chemicals.

“The project design will exceed California energy efficiency standards by almost 40 percent,” Ortiz said.

The facility will be made with steel and masonry block construction, instead of wood framing, which will provide a longer life expectancy and avoid termite and dry rot problems, according to school officials.

The project is currently in the preconstruction and design phase. Ortiz said the project should break ground by December of this year, at the earliest.

Barnhart Inc. is the general contractor of the project and LPA Inc. is the architectural firm helping design the project.

The Montgomery Middle School construction is made possible through Proposition O, a $644 million bond program to repair school campuses for the Sweetwater Union High School District.

Phase I of the bond measure will address nine of the oldest schools in the district. These schools will each receive repairs and renovations, and will all be designed to meet at least gold certification standards from the Green Building Council.

The work at Montgomery Middle is the first project of Phase II of Proposition O work.

Of the $22 million project cost, $18 million comes from Proposition O funds and $4 million from California State School Facility Program funding.

The school is also using a “lease-leaseback” program, where school districts lease district land to a builder, which then subleases the land back to the school district. The school district pays monthly sublease payments to cover the cost of construction. Title to the property and the buildings vests in the school district when the project is completed.

The lease-leaseback method allows the architect and general contractor to team up and design and build the project from the beginning, reducing cost overruns, change orders and delays.

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