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Sage Creek High moving toward 2013 completion

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A rendering shows an aerial view of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad. The project had several environmental challenges that contractors had to overcome.

The new high school being built in Carlsbad is more than halfway done and is on schedule to be completed by February 2013.

Officials expect to open Sage Creek High School to students in the fall of 2013.

The project has been a challenge to construct since the designers had to incorporate a hillside into its building plans, making it one of the few multi-level high schools in California.

The campus consists of eight buildings and four levels, spanning 100 feet in elevation.

"It keeps the site compact, which is an environmentally friendly thing to do, and which reduces the footprint," said Aaron Golde, project manager for Gafcon Inc., which is managing the construction for the school district.

"You don’t see too many high schools that have more than one level."

The budget for Sage Creek High School was originally $95 million, but because of litigation and a complicated Environmental Impact Review, the project's budget was increased to $104 million.

Golde said it will come in right at that figure.

The total occupied square footage of all eight buildings is 140,000 square feet. Classrooms will be prominently featured in three of the buildings, along with a library, administration offices and food services.

The campus also will consist of a gymnasium, fine arts building and a football/soccer field, complete with press box and concession stands.

Builders recently finished putting up the structural steel and now are working on the interior finishes, with 20 percent of the dry wall complete.

Additionally, Gafcon is starting to look for furniture and fixtures to purchase by the end of the year to outfit the buildings.

"It looks very natural to the surrounding areas," said Tim Berry, vice president of construction management field operations for Balfour Beatty Construction, the project's contractor. "It's a very nice addition to the community.

"I'm very pleased with the progress and the project. The architectural features are beautiful."

The project features color block, structural steel and metal decks.

The 57-acre site sits on the northeast corner of College Boulevard and Cannon Road in Carlsbad. It will be the city's second high school.

Approximately 40 acres of the site are being developed for the school campus with 6.2 acres set aside as a biological habitat preserve.

Sage Creek High School also registered for a Collaborative for Higher Performance Schools (CHPS) designation.

The environmentally friendly designation is similar to the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification given in other types of construction. It recognizes green building design that helps with water savings, energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

Gold said the Sage Creek project makes a lot of good use out of glazing, including the opaqueness of glass. The school's HVAC system also is energy efficient.

"We have a minimum standard needed to meet Title 24 of the California code, and we're some 25 percent better than that, so it's highly energy efficient," Golde said of the entire project.

Gafcon and Beatty worked about 18 months on pre-construction.

"All the hard work up front is paying off in quality of the project," Berry said.

"We're very proud of all the subcontractors," he added. "They have been huge assets to helping with the success of the project. They all have a team approach to delivery method and everybody seems to do very well together."

The construction of Sage Creek High School is primarily being financed with Proposition P funds, the $198 million bond measure that passed in November 2006. Approximately $83.4 million is being used from Prop. P with the remaining $20.9 million coming from state matching funds.

Gafcon is the program manager, and Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects is the architect.

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