Net-zero school’s composite rainscreen blends interior with exterior
The 20th and newest elementary school in the Pflugerville Independent School District opened to rave reviews from students, teachers and parents alike. Dearing Elementary School in Texas was lauded for its net-zero design, which creates more energy than the building consumes.
The new building’s energy-efficient design made a special impression on school principal Christy Chandler. “The school’s amazing. I don’t know if there’s another one like it in the state,” she said. The two-story building uses geothermal heat for both electricity and heating and is equipped with LED lights throughout.
Identified during construction as Pflugerville Elementary School #20, the 93,000 sq. ft. school officially became the Audrey and Leonard Dearing Elementary School honoring a Pflugerville couple that has been active in civic and educational interests. Located on more than 10 acres of land, the school has capacity for 800 students.
Nearly 11,000 sq. ft. of Petersen’s PAC-CLAD Composite rainscreen panels were utilized as a strong design element in both exterior and interior applications. Petersen fabricated the panels at its Tyler, Texas, plant using 4mm Reynobond aluminum composite material (ACM) finished in Copper Penny and Silver Metallic. The Copper Penny panels provide a dramatic look both outside and inside the new school.
The composite wall panels were only 11 5/8-in. wide and 8-ft. long which is an unusual size for ACM, according to Jesse Brown, operations manager at installer Dean Contracting Co. in Kyle, Texas. “The use of the narrow ACM panels with long spans and multiple colors was a vision of the architect to break up the façade,” Brown said. “Traditional ACM panels are generally larger. In this case, the architect wanted just the opposite. That added a bit of challenge for Petersen in fabricating the panels and for us in making sure that all of the horizontal and vertical lines matched up so that we could deliver the vision the architect wanted.” Brown was quick to credit Dean Contracting’s project manager Hermilo Sotelo and installer supervisor Javier Nieto for a job well done.
Brown also commented on the use of PAC-CLAD products on an interior application. “It was unique—the ACM transitioned to the interior space through the outside wall and formed an inviting, elevated multi-use space. We paid careful attention to the shop drawings because it was critical to align the seams,” Brown said.
Architectural design for the school was created by Stantec (formally SHW Group in Austin) and incorporates sustainable features to create a building that is innovative and exciting. Grade levels are organized into pod communities with classrooms surrounding a central flex space used for team teaching and large group activities.
The general contractor on the project was Bartlett Cocke General Contractors in Austin. Bartlett Cocke was recognized for its green construction of Dearing Elementary School in Engineering News Record magazine’s annual “Best Projects” awards program in the Texas/Louisiana region.