Rosa Parks Elementary School’s green initiative has earned gold.

Paulsen Architects presented a certificate to the Mankato Area Public School board Tuesday stating the school has been certified LEED for Schools Gold for its energy efficiency Ñ the second highest rating possible.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this,” said Paul Lawton, of Paulsen Architects.

Designed by Paulsen, the $21 million building opened in fall of 2010. The “green” features of the facility include a ground source heat pump system for heating and cooling the school, occupancy sensors for lighting, regional and recycled material use, water-saving fixtures and landscape and many indoor air quality strategies.

LEED is the preeminent program for design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. The LEED for Schools Rating System recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools.

Points are awarded in various categories, which determine the level of certification. Gold is the second-highest level under platinum. Few buildings receive a platinum certification, said Eric Lennartson of Paulsen Architects.

“Rosa Parks is one of those funny (buildings). It doesn’t look particularly energy efficient, but it performs that way,” Lennartson said.

Lawton told the board that as the project progressed, they aimed for a silver rating. “As we continued a little further, we got gold in our eye,” he said.

Supt. Sheri Allen said the certification reinforces the commitment to building a positive and healthy learning environment, which also saves energy and is environmentally friendly.

Rosa Parks is the second LEED-certified building in south-central Minnesota. The Blue Earth County Justice Center, also designed by Paulsen Architects, was the first.

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