Saving energy, money, and helping the environment is part of the curriculum for a new Eastern Iowa school.
First grade teacher Alys Thoensen can't wait for class to begin in her new school. She says, "just getting everything up and going is pretty exciting."
Exciting because the new Van Allen Elementary school isn't your typical school. It's environmentally friendly. The Van Allen Rockets will be the first students in the state to experience the school of the future. Principal Brad Laures says the Iowa City Community School District wanted to build a high performance school that would benefit both students and the environment. Laures says, "as we started looking at it, and looking at the possibility of adding some of these things to the building, we thought it made sense to build it the right way."
Renewable resources, wheat board cabinets and sensors to conserve water are ready for students to use. Natural lighting is how students will see. When the shades go down, sensors tell the lights to get brighter. Laures says, "the question everyone asks is what is the deal with the water-less urinals?" There's no need to flush with oil based cartridges in the urinals.
The environmentally friendly benefits extend beyond the inside of the school. Premium parking is provided for staff members who choose to car pool. Saving money and energy is the key, but it may take a few years to see the benefits. The new gym alone cost more than half a million dollars. The City of Coralville helped foot the bill. Laures says it's a price worth paying, because kids will learn about the environment. He says, "some of the things students will just learn about naturally because it's a part of their environment, it's a part of their building."
Teachers like Thoensen are excited to incorporate the building design into their curriculum and to teach kids how to be Eco-friendly.
Van Allen Elementary was built to accommodate 345 children from Coralville and North Liberty. School starts August 22 for the Iowa City Community School District.