Lakewood’s Head Start program has been recognized for getting a head start in energy efficient design.
The 11th Avenue Head Start facility has been Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. This is the first city-built facility to receive this certification. The LEED rating system is the top energy-efficient program for buildings, homes and neighborhoods and certifies buildings that are designed and built with the best environmental and health standards in mind.
While the 11th Avenue location was designed in 2009 and opened for use in 2010, it takes a while for a building to get certified, according to John Paliga, landscape architect with the planning and construction division.
“There’s a lot of loose ends and processes to go through for this,” he said. “You have to prove that everything is done and working as designed.”
Paliga said the building was designed with a lot of efficiency in mind, and the whole design concept revolved around a thermal mass wall system, which is a concrete wall design. The system uses a layer of concrete, then insulation, and then another layer of concrete. Paliga said the system is great for keeping heat in during the winter and maintaining cooler temperatures in the summer.
Some other features of the building are a radiant heating system on the floor, which is extremely efficient, using the cutting edge Coolerado air conditioning system and a lot of windows, which provide a great amount of interior lighting.
Paliga added that the whole system is tied together with a computer system that lets the people inside fine tune the temperature.
The fact that there is a lot of pedestrian and mass transit options — including being close to the Lamar Street light rail station — also helped the building receive certification.
For teachers and students in the Head Start program who use the building during the week, the design has really helped to create an inviting place to be.
“It’s a really nice, clean and healthy environment for children to be in,” said Sharon Keith, family services manager. “There’s so much natural light, it’s amazing. It really makes everyone aware of what a sustainable building can look like.”