Vol 1. 2013 – Case Study: The Green Schoolhouse Series

Many schools across North America and around the world simply do not have the resources to carry out the basic repairs and renovations necessary to provide children with a learning environment that is safe, comfortable, and free of harmful toxins. Inspired by proactive organizations such as The Green Schoolhouse Series, this Greenovation+ article reviews the various features that identify a ‘Green Schoolhouse’, and how some plumbing manufacturers are doing their part to ensure that children are given the opportunity to advance in a healthy and safe environment.

What is the Green Schoolhouse Series?

The Green Schoolhouse Series is a non-profit and charitable initiative that collaborate efforts of various corporations, school districts, communities and volunteers dedicated to building green, multipurpose classrooms and community centers. [i]

Designed to serve the entire community, these remarkable buildings not only offer needed classroom space, but they also act as sites for after-school programs, and serve as a community resource to be used for other community activities.

All Green Schoolhouse Series are certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum (80 points or more), the highest designation awarded by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council). By doing so, the building’s design, material selection, and technology must be carefully considered in order to attain the required LEED points.

As such, water conservation and smart usage is very important to a Green Schoolhouse. With the product expertise of Green Schoolhouse Partners like BRAE and Sloan, their Green Schools can meet the highest levels of water efficiency. [ii]

In addition to adhering to LEED standards, every Green Schoolhouse is also designed in accordance with the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS). CHPS is a national movement to improve student performance and the entire educational experience by building the best schools possible. [iii]

In order to meet the CHPS criteria, Green Schoolhouses are also required to take a whole-building approach. This development approach addresses all aspects of the project construction and involves all project members and designers.

Left: Students from the summer school program at Orangewood School wave their hard hats provided by the Kitchell, the general contractor on the Studio build. 

The first project: Phoenix, AZ

Chosen from 11 Valley schools that applied for the ‘all-expenses-paid’ project, the first Green Schoolhouse Series project began with Roadrunner Elementary, in Phoenix, Arizona. The 6000 sqft building, named Safari, was valued at $2.4 million, and funded entirely through charitable contributions, collaborating non-profit organizations, cause development firms, community volunteers, and corporate partnerships. [iv]

The goal was to construct environmentally sustainable schoolhouses on existing low-income public school campuses, as well as replacing old and unhealthy infrastructures. It is to be used as a teaching tool to educate students and the community about sustainable living and building practices.

Sustainable features include a solar rooftop system, rainwater harvesting capabilities, interactive white boards, an outdoor classroom, native gardens and a classroom devoted to science, technology, engineering and math. [v]

Above ground Rain water harvesting system

Below ground Rain water harvesting system

Above: Brae Rainwater harvesting system services.

Green Schoolhouse restrooms

Green Schoolhouses plans to deliver the next generation of green restroom design. Made possible with energy and water efficient plumbing solutions, these products assist in the conservation of water while reducing maintenance and energy costs. As such, there are many possibilities in which green restrooms can be built while achieving LEED Platinum certification.

In a commercial or high traffic environment, it’s immensely beneficial to install high-efficiency toilets, for example, a pressure-assist water closet consumes 1.0 gallon of water per flush (GPF) compared to the standard 1.6-gallon (GPF), reducing water consumption by more than a third.

Dual-flush valves can also help conserve water by providing the user with 2 flushing options: 1.1 (GPF) for flushing down liquid waste, and 1.6 (GPF) for solid.

Above: Sloan ECOS® Exposed Battery-Powered Dual-Flush Water Closet Flushometers

Waterless urinals have also grown in popularity due to their high efficiency and conservation. They look and perform similar to conventional urinals except they require neither a flush valve nor any water at all. However, the technology behind waterless urinals is much deeper than simply saving water consumption. The new generation of waterless urinals cuts water consumption while staying odour-free, as a result of the improved technology behind the urinal cartridge installed in the base of the urinal. While traditional urinals use water to rinse and wash down waste, a waterless unit acts as a funnel and allows liquid to flow directly into the cartridge. As the liquid sealant within the cartridge is more buoyant than water, the sealant stays atop the cartridge, trapping odour-causing material beneath this seal. The cartridge also acts as a filter, blocking sediment that can cause drainage pipe blockage while freely disposing the remaining waste down the drain. 

Above left: Sloan WES-5000® Waterless urinal / Above right: Urinal Cartridge diagram 

Alternatively, should the project decide to not use Waterless urinals due to the increased maintenance aspect of the product, there are also many low flow, high performance urinal products on the market.  These include 1/8 gallon or ‘pint’ models that can drastically decrease the water consumption in a male washroom by using over 85% less water than standard models.  The designer just needs to ensure that the consumption levels of the vitreous china component of the urinal is matched to the appropriate water consumption level of the flush valve.

High-efficiency faucets are just as important, as they are also a main contributor towards restrooms water consumption. Install sensor-operated (timed) faucets, that automatically switch off after several seconds, or once the user walks away from the sensing area. Faucet aerators (often found in most modern faucets) minimizes water flow by spreading the stream into smaller droplets, thus providing the sense of pressure. This reduces the overall water usage without sacrificing performance.

Left: Sloan EFX-100.000.0040 Basys sensor activated faucet 

Green Schoolhouse partners

The Green Schoolhouse Series projects are built and funded completely by corporations, plumbing manufacturers, architects, construction partners, school districts, and volunteers. Funded entirely by these parties, through kind donations and charitable contributions, each Green Schoolhouse built replaces four to ten aging portable class rooms with a permanent multipurpose facility, ranging from 6,000 to 15,000 sqft in size. [iii]

“The next generation of green restroom design is something that we are working with schools to provide a healthy restroom environment where students are using less water, less energy, and there are less resources needed to maintain the restrooms.” – Sherry Davenport, Executive Director of Marketing of Sloan. [vi]

For a full list of The Green Schoolhouse sponsors, click here.

Final thoughts

Beyond creating a facility that promotes environmental sustainability and the next generation of green design, it also enriches the community by providing the students with a healthier and safer learning environment.

What is amazing about the Green Schoolhouse is that each project requires more than 2 years for planning, and only requires approximately a month to construct. Live footage of the construction is also available online and displays the work in progress; a camera will be filming the entire process from start to finish.

For more information on The Green Schoolhouse Series, visit and find out how you can contribute towards building a sustainable community.

[i] “Excel and Sloan Valve Company Team Up for The Green Schoolhouse Series.” 26 July 2012. YouTube. YouTube, 26 July 2012. Web. 10 Jan. 2013. <>
[ii] “Tag Archives: Hydrology” (19 June 2012): n. pag. The Green Schoolhouse Series. 19 June 2012. Web. 10 Jan. 2013. <>
[iii] Green Schoolhouse. Project Overview. N.p.: Green Schoolhouse, n.d. Project Overview. Web. 8 Jan. 2013. <>
[iv] Gersema, Emily. “Phoenix Roadrunner Elementary Abandoning Trailer for Sustainable Schoolhouse.” (n.d.): n. pag. The Republic, 12 June 2012. Web. 8 Jan. 2013. <>
[v] “Green Schoolhouse Series Breaks Ground on First Project | School Construction News.” Web log post. Green Schoolhouse Series Breaks Ground on First Project | School Construction News., 16 Nov. 2011. Web. 9 Jan. 2013. <>
[vi] Excel and Sloan Valve Company Team Up for The Green Schoolhouse SeriesYouTube. YouTube, 26 July 2012. Web. 10 Jan. 2013. <>



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