When it comes to saving energy, Midtown's Fairview Middle School gets an A-plus.
Renovations are under way at the school, and Memphis City Schools (MCS) is using the opportunity to make the 80-plus-year-old building more eco-friendly.
Although new MCS schools are constructed with green building practices, many of its older buildings are in need of energy-efficient updates. Starting with Fairview, MCS will make older buildings more sustainable as part of scheduled renovation projects.
"The schools are very excited about all the greening they can do to their structures," said architect John Pruett, who is working with MCS on updating the energy efficiency and appearance of Fairview's building.
Fairview Middle, an art-deco brick building at the corner of East Parkway and Central, was constructed in 1930 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Part of the Fairview update has included sealing cracks and replacing windows with more energy-efficient ones.
"Anytime you seal windows, doors, ceilings, and so forth, you see a big energy savings. If the [structure] was built in 1930, you can imagine the insulation done back then," said Leonard Myers, MCS' manager of design and construction.
Fairview's update began in 2008, but repairs are still under way and expected continue until next year. Pruett said the first phase was a cleanup of the outside masonry, followed by window replacement. The school's original steel-frame windows were replaced with thermally improved, aluminum-framed windows.
"The windows block ultraviolet light, so it keeps the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter," Pruett said.
The window project was completed by the end of 2009, and MCS spent last year calculating the energy saved. They found the new windows improved their Energy Star rating by 14 points. The Energy Star rating system, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, determines the impact of a building's energy consumption.
With the window project behind him, Pruett is now focusing on a renovation of Fairview's interior. Part of that involves replacing old mechanical equipment with energy-efficient equipment.
"We're also installing new lighting that's more energy-efficient," Pruett said. "I've been a big advocate of keeping the ceiling as high as we can so we can keep as much natural light coming into the building. That cuts down the need for artificial light."
Crowell Elementary and Denver Elementary, built in 1963 and 1957 respectively, are next on the MCS list for energy-efficient improvements. Those project are scheduled to start in the next 90 days.
"There are obstacles you have to overcome with these old buildings," Pruett said. "You have a budget, and just like with any job, you have to figure out how you can best utilize it to make significant differences."