In early June, the Lenawee Intermediate School District (LISD) in Adrian, Mich., broke ground on a 9,600-square-foot classroom and greenhouse building nestled in the grounds of the existing Sustainable Future campus. The project plans to meet the ambitious goal of net-zero energy use, meaning it will produce as much energy as it consumes.

The facility is designed to average 18kBTU per square foot per year, compared with the 70kBTU of a modern code-compliant structure. Energy-saving improvements are obtained through design features including increased insulation, earth-bermed wall construction, geothermal mechanical systems, intelligent controls and daylighting. The renewable energy source for the building will be a 50kW solar power array.

Using such features as a vegetative roof and a rainwater collection system, the school is able to clean and use stormwater for irrigation. Other sustainable components include low-flow water fixtures and 100 percent recycled-content brick.

The goal for LISD’s Center for a Sustainable Future is to develop a community campus that demonstrates the effective application of environmentally sensitive features in a manner that is both productive and educational.

The center, designed by The Collaborative Inc (Toledo, Ohio) is LEED-registered and pursuing platinum certification.