If you are a subscriber to American School & University magazine, you may have recently received the November 2011 issue, in which the architectural portfolio 2011 is featured.  The subtitle for this issue is the “Sourcebook for Award-Winning and Outstanding Educational Design.”  I was fortunate to serve as one of the three jurors for this award program.  My distinguished colleagues on the jury were Christopher O’Brien, Director of Sustainability at American University, and John Dale FAIA, of Harley Ellis Devereaux , Los Angeles.  We spent two days analyzing submittals and deliberating in August in Kansas City.  Receiving the actual magazine was a pleasant reminder of that time.

We had a strong focus on sustainability, but that focus was tempered by two other criteria adopted by our jury.  First, are the resulting spaces enhancing the educational process?  Second, is the resulting building an integrated and enduring piece of architecture?  While we each had a few favorites and a few dislikes among the submittals, we were able to reach consensus quickly, aided by the above guideline.

I was especially pleased to see a submittal from the Richardsville Elementary School, in Bowling Green, KY.  I have closely followed the progress of this project since it was announced as one the nation’s first Net Zero Energy Schools a couple of years ago.  The most remarkable aspect of the school is that the 348 kW photovoltaic array was included in the base building construction budget, and that budget is the same as other schools in the region.  I know from firsthand experience how difficult it is to accomplish that challenge, and so I was an advocate for this project in our jury.  I hope other schools owners and designers will be emboldened to pursue Net Zero Energy as a result of Richardsville and the handful of other schools that have achieved this goal.