Sandy Grove Middle School: Energy efficient building delivers top quality STEM instruction as it saves millions of dollars in operating costs


The Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County has proven that a Public Private Partnership (PPP) can deliver high quality schools and save communities money, says Robbie Ferris, CEO and president of SFL+Architects and FirstFloor K-12 Solutions.

The school, which opened in time for the 2013-14 school year, “is currently generating 30 to 40 percent more electricity than it consumes” and will save $16 million in electrical cost over the next 40 years,” says a fact sheet provided by the developer.

The 75,930 sq. ft. school has been designed to LEED Platinum standards. The energy savings, combined with operations and maintenance efficiencies, will save the county more than $35 million over 40 years.

The developers say the school itself is a teaching tool. “The school is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to emphasize the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM in preparing students for life in the twenty-first century.”

The school has an interactive educational dashboard, focusing on the school’s sustainable features including “how the various building systems work, the relationship between power production and use water use monitoring, geothermal ground loop temperature readings and countless other design integration points relating to the LEED Platinum scorecard.”

The school, which currently accommodates 650 students, can grow to 800 students.

If built through traditional delivery models, the school would have cost $53.5 million – including $21.5 million in construction, $16 million in electrical and $16 million in interest costs, Ferris says.

With the PPP model with leased delivery, the construction cost was reduced to $16.3 million. Energy savings tax credits will generate $.2 million in savings, electrical costs are zero, and instead of paying interest, the project will generate some interest revenue because of its efficiencies.

“Overall, Sandy Grove Middle School is a healthy environment for the students and community, and as a net-zero school, and possibly the 24th LEED Platinum School ever built, should serve as a model for future North Carolina Schools and all facilities across the southeast,” the Fayetteville Observer wrote.

For more information about the school, see


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