FORT STEWART, Ga. - Construction nears completion on a $20.5 million environmentally-friendly elementary school at Fort Stewart.

Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District and prime contractor Sauer, Inc., the new Murray Elementary School is equipped with over 450 solar panels, a wind turbine, and other sustainable design features.

"We are very excited to deliver this sustainable, state-of-the-art school to our valued military customers at Fort Stewart," said Susan Smith, project engineer with the Corps' Fort Stewart Resident Office.

This May, the Corps will turn over the keys to the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)-the organization that operates DoD schools across the globe.

Murray Elementary School will accommodate up to 450 students (grades K-6) and 70 teachers and support staff. The 83,000-square-foot facility includes classrooms, computer labs, a gymnasium, a multipurpose "cafetorium" with a stage and a kitchen, a library, and administrative offices.

The school is named after Charles P. Murray, a retired Army colonel and a World War II Medal of Honor recipient.

The project was designed by architect-engineer firm VOA Associates, Inc., to satisfy Silver-level criteria on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

Steve Poulin, Sauer quality control manager, said the project will supply a portion of its own energy usage. The school is equipped with 456 solar photovoltaic panels, which will provide an estimated 153.2 megawatt hours of energy per year to augment the energy used for the building's electrical consumption, Poulin said.

It also includes 10 solar water heating panels, providing an estimated 24.9 megawatt hours per year-which is enough energy to heat about 40 percent of the building's hot water, Poulin said.

The school also includes a wind turbine, which will provide up to 1.5 kilowatts of grid-connected power, but production will vary based on wind conditions.

"The windmill feature is primarily an educational resource for students to learn about alternative energy sources," Poulin said.

Other sustainable features include enhanced acoustics per LEED for Schools 2007 requirements, and the use of low-impact development materials on the site, Smith said.

Low impact materials include dry detention ponds, which capture storm water runoff and filter out pollutants. The site also contains pervious concrete and paving materials, which allow water to pass directly through, thus reducing runoff from the site and allowing groundwater to recharge.