It’s been 12 years since the concept of Sandy Grove Middle School originated. Since then, SfL+a Architects and Firstfloor Energy Positive have received lots of positive feedback from clients, future educators, students, community members, and more. Recently, a consultant and his intern visited Sandy Grove and gave us their take on the school, located in Hoke County. The consultant says, “the entire complex was designed not just to reduce costs but to foster an interest in environmentalism that was seamlessly and creatively integrated into the curriculum. From the wind-powered decorative flowers outside to the interactive dashboard available for educational use, it’s immersing the next generation in “green” culture while educating them with it.
Re-focusing efforts toward building energy and cost-efficient schools allows the county to prioritize the needs of the students and teachers. It becomes “a foundation which is reinforced by the very design and culture of their educational climate.” He adds, “create an educational culture where students are engaged with science from the earliest age at every turn to lay a foundation for interest and exploration – and ultimately success.”
They had a blast testing out the interactive dashboard at Sandy Grove he tells us. The dashboard, which is available for students in every classroom, allows them to see conservation efforts like how much energy the building is using, how much it’s consuming, and how much water the building is using so there are tremendous opportunities for curriculum integration.
The more students are engaged, the more they are excited to learn. “There is an intangible element to the ROI there. It is underemphasized and, in my eyes, hugely significant. International rankings in science and math are undeniably abysmal. It’s not just a lack of educational resources, it’s a lack of engagement,” he explains.
He continues, “you can upgrade a facility. You can redesign a curriculum…But if you can do both at once and do it with the numbers SfL+a boast, the impact on education is massively enhanced and far more effective. You save money now and make a groundbreaking investment in the next generation and its potential for contribution…it’s a no-brainer to me.”
Sandy Grove Middle School planted the seed, a blueprint, of how education and environmental conservation can work together to foster student engagement and technological innovation. Today 10 more energy positive schools like Sandy Grove have been built, and we are just getting started.