FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Paving the way in environmental technology, the new Col. Smith Middle School will open its doors August 2012 as the first net zero school in the state of Arizona and the 12th in the nation.
A net zero building produces as much energy as it uses over the course of a year. Some of the energy-efficient features will include water harvesting and green products; a facility which is naturally illuminated with daylight through the architect's building design; and a dashboard that will allow students to monitor energy conservation.
The use of environmental technologies and being environmentally sensitive to the community doesn't begin with the finished product; it also involves the building's construction.

The contractor, 3W Management, has one of the cleanest construction sites the Directorate of Public Works has ever seen, according to Heidi Broedel, executive officer and chief, Master Planning Division, DPW.

"The contractors are very aware that their site is in the middle of housing and close to other schools," she said. "They are doing everything they can to limit adverse impact on the community, including being vigilant with their subcontractors on noise and safety, keeping a very clean and safe construction site, and installing an access path for students walking to schools."

On a daily basis there may be approximately 100 people working at the site, averaging 500 man hours, and working from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It's a pretty busy place, and being sensitive to the needs of the community is how we do business, said Tony Wall, president, 3W Management. "It's part of being respectful to the residents that live near our site and it's part of our professional delivery," he said of his construction team.

According to Wall, it all starts with a lot of planning and understanding how to create the greatest efficiencies of movement around the site and a commitment from the design team, the construction team and subcontractors to be respectful of the property and the community.

Planning also went into the creation of temporary safe pathways for children to walk to school.

"We studied traffic patterns and student travel patterns so it's most accessible to the community and the students," Wall explained.

The contractor's commitment to the Fort Huachuca community doesn't stop there; they are also sensitive to the water concerns on post.
3W Management is working with DPW to harvest 50,000 gallons of water to sustain landscapes and will capture water from rooftops and from the surface, Wall said.

The finished product, the new Col. Smith Middle School, will be a big deal to the Fort Huachuca community, he explained.

"This is our first net zero school in Arizona and means the school will produce more energy than it will use on an annual basis. We hope this serves the needs of Army families and attracts people to Fort Huachuca."