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Gloria Marshall Elementary School

Seizing green opportunities

Spring, Texas

What started as a school re-site design became one of the greenest elementary schools in Texas—without adding any costs to the district’s capital budget. Early planning conversations led to a two-story, high-performance school, which is now reporting energy savings of over 50%.

This is the first school in Houston to use geothermal heating and cooling, and it’s certified LEED Gold. Every classroom on campus can operate with only natural light 75% of the time—even the south-facing rooms which take advantage of daylight harvesting.

The school also includes an on-site wind turbine, 10 kilowatts of roof-mounted photovoltaic cells (which will convert sunlight directly into electricity), a butterfly garden along a walking trail, and an underground cistern that collects rainwater from the roof to flush toilets and urinals.

Trees from the existing site were reused in the building as benches, a treehouse, and conference room tables. Not only is sustainability part of the physical building, it’s also integrated into the curriculum of the school through the use of web-based, interactive learning tools.

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