Austin School Earns Green Building Award

AUSTIN, Texas — The new Sally and Mack Brown Rise School in Austin was recently awarded an Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) 4-Star rating. The AEGB rates projects on a 1- to 5-star scale, with five stars being the highest rating, and honors exceptional accomplishments in sustainable building and design.

The 26,000-square-foot, non-profit Rise School, which provides early childhood education services to students experiencing Downs Syndrome and other conditions, features classrooms and learning spaces specifically designed to meet more specialized learning needs. The school includes eight classrooms, flexible common areas and multi-use indoor/outdoor spaces, as well as a music room, library and physical therapy gym.

The $5.6 million Rise School earned commendations for saving 38 percent more energy than the previous facility, representing an estimated 103,785-killowatt hour reduction over previous levels. The school’s irrigation system also uses reclaimed water outside, while water-efficient plumbing fixtures further contribute to water savings inside. More than 33 percent of the building materials used in the school’s construction contained recycled content, and more than half were locally sourced. Low-emitting paints, coatings, sealants and other environmentally conscious materials further contributed to creating a healthy learning space for students.

Founded in 1990, the AEGB was the nation’s first green building program. It encourages the design and construction of more sustainable homes and buildings throughout central Texas with a mission of transforming the overall building industry to embrace a more sustainable future. Developing and maintaining its own Austin-specific sustainability rating system has also given the AEGB the flexibility to carry out aggressive climate protection goals that have paved the way for both energy and building code changes that will reduce energy use, according to the organization.

O’Connell Robertson of Austin provided architecture, MEP engineering, and interior design services for the high-performance building; Burt Watts was the construction manager.

“O’Connell Robertson is committed to sustainable design practices and meeting the goals of our clients in this area,” said Amy Jones, a principal with O’Connell Robertson. “We are proud of our team, including Burt Watts, our design consultants and the Rise School leadership for the collaboration and commitment to more efficient and healthier buildings that resulted in this award.”

School officials, donors, students and community members participated in a groundbreaking ceremony in January 2014. The school was completed in August of that year.