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Middle School in Truckee Uses Green Technology

TitleMiddle School in Truckee Uses Green Technology
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2005-01-11
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #150 - Middle School in Truckee uses Green Technology " (Air Date: Jan. 2, 2005).
SubjectMiddle schools -- California -- Truckee
Green technology
LocationLake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)
Tahoe, Lake (Calif and Nev)
CollectionThe Lake Tahoe Report
Original PublisherLake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (
Electronic PublisherUniversity of Nevada, Reno - Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies
Ordering and Permissions InformationFor more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, or 775-832-4138.
Date Digital2006-02-15
RelationWindows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegment 150 - The recently constructed Alder Creek Middle School in Truckee incorporates some of the latest "green" technology. It is a demonstration for a program called the Collaboration for High Performance Schools (CHPS). It was designed according to CHPS criteria through a grant from the California Energy Commission. High-performance schools combine the best of today's design strategies and building technologies. They conserve energy, resources, and water, while providing a healthy and comfortable indoor environment. High-performance schools are cost-effective and help to protect the environment. They serve as a teaching tool for both students and community members. According to the CHPS Web site,, high-performance schools create a better learning environment for children. Recent studies show a direct link between high-performance design features and increased test scores. For example, naturally lit rooms have been proven to boost student productivity and improve visual acuity. Rob Koster of the Truckee Tahoe Unified School District was the project manager for the design and construction of the school. He is enthusiastic about the green technology in the school, and makes sure teachers know how the technology can enhance the educational experience. Alder Creek Middle School employs natural lighting as a resource-efficient technology that also improves the teaching environment. The school's skylights and windows are designed to reflect incoming light to the white ceilings, eliminating the glare and shadows caused by direct sunlight. The orientation of the structure maximizes the delivery of this indirect lighting to the classrooms, so electric fixtures are only needed for supplemental lighting. Motion sensors automatically turn off the lights if the classrooms are not in use. The school also saves thousands of dollars each year by using high-efficiency ground source heat pumps. A field of 288 wells, drilled 300 feet beneath the soccer field, circulate and slightly warm water. The water is then pumped into the school where it is used to heat the classrooms. In summer, the system can also be used to cool the school. Many of the school's building materials came from recycled products. The students also run a schoolwide recycling program, with recycle bins in all rooms in the building. Every week, students from Sue Mock's sixth grade ecology class collect the bins, sort the items, and place them in proper receptacles for pickup by the Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal Company. The disposal company transports the recyclables to their Materials Recovery Facility. Scott Terrell of the Truckee-Donner Public Utility District is working with many community members to add a Photovoltaic Demonstration System that will convert sunlight to electric power. The school received a $10, 000 grant from the "A-Plus for Energy" program of British Petroleum (BP). Local residents and businesses donated an additional $9, 000 for the photovoltaic system. The demonstration system will consist of solar panels mounted on a pole. The array of panels will move with a tracking device to follow the movement of the sun across the sky each day. Once the photovoltaic system is installed, Terrell hopes the school will qualify for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) certification as a sustainable building, as this will further enhance its value as a teaching tool. In addition to the work of Scott Terrell and Rob Koster, project assistance is being provided by Solar Wind Works; Jason Wooley of Lot C Architecture; Arthur Fellows, structural engineer; and Tony Pastore and Andrew Ryan of Pastore-Ryan EcoDesign. The UC Berkeley Sagehen Field Station and the Truckee River Watershed Council will host a symposium, "Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada, " May 6 and 7 at the school. The Tahoe Truckee Regional Education Coalition is also planning a "Youth Symposium on Climate Change" for May 5 at the school. For more information, contact Jan Ellis, project director for Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships, For details about the school and its environmental and energy programs, call Sue Mock, (530) 582-2751, ext. 3843.

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