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Green Buildings--A School of Nature

Let the sun shine in.

By Cindy Long

A “green” school in Virginia brings the outdoors inside.

What happens in a classroom with a wall of windows that overlook a forest?

“Students spend a lot of time looking outside,” says Wyck Knox, the architect who designed Manassas Park Elementary School (MPES) in northern Virginia. “And that’s the whole idea—to bring the outdoors in and the indoors out.”

What else happens in a classroom flooded with natural daylight? Test scores go up, energy costs go down, and students become more environmentally conscious—which is the philosophy driving the design of MPES.

With everything from rainwater harvesting and geothermal well fields to solar tubes, recycling stations, and even reserved parking spots for alternative fuel cars, the school is a lean, green, natural resource-saving machine that provides hands-on learning opportunities at every turn.

“This building is 100 percent efficient,” says Knox. “Every space serves an environmental and educational mission.”

To take a walk in MPES, click on the slideshow below.

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