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NAR Recognizes School of the Future Design Winners

Media Contact: Stephanie Singer / / Email

WASHINGTON (May 1, 2009) - The annual School of the Future Design Competition recognizes the efforts of young students in integrating sustainability, technology and community involvement into school design. This year’s winners were announced by the National Association of Realtors® and the Council of Educational Facility Planners International Foundation at an event last night.

Middle school students from around the country participated in the competition, which is part of School Building Week, April 27-May 1. The week is sponsored by NAR and CEFPI, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Institute of Architects and more than 30 associations and private companies.

“Realtors® build communities, and schools are a big part of those communities,” said NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Realtors®> support programs like the School of the Future Design competition because we know that healthy, high-performing schools help build strong, stable communities. NAR congratulates the winners of this year’s competition and is proud to be a part of this valuable educational program.”

The competition underscores the importance of well-designed, environmentally sensitive school buildings in enhancing student-teacher performance and engaging the surrounding community. It challenges teams to redesign their schools to enhance learning, conserve resources, be environmentally responsive and engage the surrounding community.

The grand prize winner was Imago Dei Middle School, Tucson, Ariz. Second place went to Explorer Middle School, Mukilteo, Wash. Third place was a tie between Seneca Middle School, Macomb, Mich., and the Gereau Center, Rocky Mount, Va. Honorable mentions went to the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, Old Lyme, Conn., and Charles Hart Middle School, Washington, D.C.

Imago Dei Middle School was presented with a check for $2,000 for its first-place project. To develop their future school, the students studied all aspects of green design. They chose a barren site that was centrally located and accessible by bus and bike, with the idea of rebuilding it using recycled materials from a condemned property on the site. The students also solicited ideas from schools in China, Mali and France, to get global input for local benefit.

Explorer Middle School received $1,500 for its second-place design, which takes employs a two-story design to accommodate projected future enrollment. Green building and sustainability principles are prevalent in their design, which includes recycled jean-packed walls, a green roof, greywater recycling, a wetland, and composting areas. The design also considers the needs of the larger community, providing a playground, soccer fields, a softball/baseball diamond, and community use privileges in the gym, library, computer lab, and auditorium.

Seneca Middle School and the Gereau Center were both awarded $1,000 for their third-place projects. The students at Seneca Middle School set out to design a school that is safe, accessible and technologically advanced. Each student would have an “I Touch” computer system, and students would access the school with a card key containing a GPS chip. The school would include rainwater gardens, solar panels and wind turbines, and be serviced by alternative fuel school buses.

The Gereau Center students focused on inspiring education by creating an atmosphere that promotes positive energy through attentiveness to basic, human needs. The students configured the shell of the school into a celebration of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and proposed technologies including geothermal heating and air conditioning, super insulation, triple pane glass and solar hot water heaters.

The student teams at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and Charles Hart Middle School each received $500 for their honorable mention design projects. The Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School students proposed a school with energy efficiency and self sustainability features, with state-of-the-art classrooms that include a personal outdoor garden space. A geodesic dome would house a roof deck area with Pedal Power bicycles that produce the building’s electricity.

The design from Charles Hart Middle School would use bio walls and a green roof to insulate the school and improve air quality. The green roof would also be used as an outdoor classroom to study biology and ecology, and would grow plants for the school’s landscaping and organic vegetables for the cafeteria.

The School of the Future Design Competition kicks off each year in September. Each student team is required to submit a project model made from recycled materials, a short video or presentation, and a 750-word narrative description explaining the planning process and rationale behind their project.

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