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Richard J. Lee Elementary

The first net-zero elementary school in Texas

  • 1st

    Net Zero in Texas

  • 39%

    More Learning Space

  • 1096

    Solar Panels

  • Coppell, Texas

    Coppell, Texas

Keeping the environment in mind, our uniquely designed system ensures no effluents or discharge of wastewater

Coppell Independent School District had big ideas: a new learning environment with an innovative education system that could support individual learners. That meant a design that did things differently than the past. After a visioning process, they had three goals: reduce limitations and inspire innovation, celebrate fun and authentic learning experiences through sustainable practices, and create collaboration, connection, and active learning. The Richard J. Lee Elementary School is the first big step in achieving this vision.

Something different is happening inside Lee Elementary—challenge-based learning. This type of education focuses individual learning styles. Learners are presented with a challenge, and then they choose what methods they’ll use to overcome it. We designed the school to specifically support the flexibility that challenge-based learning promotes.

Rather than the conventional organization of classrooms by grade, the learners (students) are grouped into learning houses. Each of the five houses has four classrooms, five small rooms for collaborative work, an open area with casual seating, two labs, and a professional home-base where designers (teachers) share office space. A house is made up of learners from kindergarten to fifth grade, and it’s supported by six designers engaged with all their students. The bonus? The learners and designers all know each other: they’re in the same neighborhood.

This community approach focuses on needs rather than age. With this model of flexibility and stability, Lee Elementary creates a comfortable atmosphere for learners as they move through their education, day to day and year to year.

As the first net-zero elementary school in Texas, Lee Elementary is dedicated to producing as much energy as it consumes. Daylight harvesting through reflective ceiling tubes and large windows enables natural light to fill 90% of the school, meaning less energy is needed for illumination. With a compact design, less exterior wall, and careful directional siting, we reduced the amount of energy needed to run the school.

The school uses less electricity than an ASHRAE compliant design, and the electricity it does use is offset by solar panels. With rainwater collection (for plumbing and irrigation) and a geothermal heating and cooling system, Lee Elementary is breaking even—and ahead of the curve.

At a Glance

  • Coppell Independent School District
Construction Value

Richard J. Lee Elementary—Next Steps

Terry Hoyle lets us know what’s next for the students of Richard J. Lee Elementary School.

Meet Our Team

Terry Hoyle, Principal

My focus is to understand your vision and then see that we provide design solutions that are tailored to achieving your goals.

Tom Oehler, Vice President

Delivering our clients value is at the heart of everything we do. Simply being beautiful is not enough, our designs must also be purposeful and efficient.

Gwen Morgan, Senior Interior Design

I love designing facilities for people who devote themselves to public service and the development of future generations.
Gwen Morgan Senior Interior Design Read More

Michael Elmore, Associate, Senior Project Manager

The best part about educational facilities is when the students get to use the finished product.
Michael Elmore Associate, Senior Project Manager Read More

Shivani Langer, Senior Project Architect

We work in a field of creativity where we can influence the everyday lives of people through the buildings we create.
Shivani Langer Senior Project Architect Read More

Brad Robichaux, Senior Interior Designer

More than picking colors, interior design is a dialogue between architecture, psychology, and art to shape how people experience buildings.
Brad Robichaux Senior Interior Designer Read More
  • Terry Hoyle


  • Tom Oehler

    Vice President

  • Gwen Morgan

    Senior Interior Design

  • Michael Elmore

    Associate, Senior Project Manager

  • Shivani Langer

    Senior Project Architect

  • Brad Robichaux

    Senior Interior Designer

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