Amy Biehl Community School | Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe’s newest elementary school opened in August 2010. Harmonizing with its surrounding neighborhood, the new 62,000 square foot design is a contemporary interpretation of northern New Mexico “village” vernacular. Care was taken to select colors and materials that reflect the site’s natural landscape.
The design promotes a sustainable learning environment for 467 students in grades K-6. Each classroom enjoys direct access to an enclosed outdoor nature-based learning area. The outdoor classrooms play an important role in the project based, STEM curriculum at Amy Biehl. Outdoor learning beneﬁts include improved physical health, increased knowledge retention, and heightened sensory awareness due to direct connections with natural elements.
The LEED Gold certified school incorporates such energy efficient design features as:
- Sloped roofs and clerestory windows that admit natural daylight into every classroom
- Photo sensors that automatically switch off artificial lighting on bright days, eliminating the heat generated by lighting and thus reducing the demand for cooling
- A rainwater harvesting system that collects runoff into a system of cisterns and retention ponds, where it is stored for later use in watering the drought-tolerant landscaping
- A ground source heat pump HVAC system that uses the earth as a natural insulator, heating and cooling the facility at reduced energy cost to the District.
These features, along with the reflective, energy-efficient, ozone-resistant TPO roof and a solar photovoltaic array, are projected to significantly reduce energy consumption compared to other traditionally built schools of the same size.
Amy Biehl Community School was recognized as a U. S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School in 2014, in part due to its innovative, sustainable design.