Lake Mills Elementary School Earns Top Sustainability Certification

LAKE MILLS, Wis. — On Aug. 5, Lake Mills Elementary School achieved LEED Platinum certification from the USGBC, the organization’s highest sustainability honor. The two-story, 600-student facility was completed in September 2014 and participated in the LEED v4 beta program, which required the project team to adhere to strict design, construction and energy-reduction strategies.

Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA) of Milwaukee designed the new school on the site of its predecessor, incorporating a number of design methods to meet the district’s sustainability goals. As the first school to earn LEED Platinum certification under the new LEED v4 pilot program, Lake Mills Elementary School can now claim to be one of the greenest schools in the nation, according to a statement by EUA.

EUA joined the project in fall 2011 to assist with pre-referendum planning and design services to address the school’s aging structure and systems and to address overcrowding. To foster community engagement, EUA recommended working with a community-based committee to determine needs as part of a long-term facilities plan, according to a statement by the firm. Based on the feedback gathered, Lake Mills Area School District officials chose to replace the existing elementary school, and an $18.7 million referendum was passed in November 2012 to support the project. Miron Construction of Neenah, Wis., was the project’s builder.

The more than 93,000-square-foot, K-4 school earned LEED Platinum by incorporating a white membrane roof on the gymnasium for reduced solar heat gain and installing solar hot water panels to supplement the traditional water heating equipment. It also includes a photovoltaic array that produces more than 13,000 kWh of energy annually, while a closed-loop geothermal system provides for 100 percent of the school’s heating and cooling needs. Careful attention was also paid to the building envelope, which was designed and built to keep moisture out and to keep conditioned air in.

Outside, a green roof features vegetation trays for water absorption and visual interest as well as acts as a teaching and learning space. Touch screens located throughout the facility provide yet another way for students to interact and learn from the building, which is flooded with natural light thanks to large exterior windows and glass wall sections.

In addition to its latest sustainability honor, Lake Mills Elementary School also received a number of other commendations, including a Green Ribbon Schools Award from the U.S. Department of Education in 2015 and the Se2 (Sustainability Energy Efficiency) Award of Excellence from USGBC Wisconsin in 2015.