The Baca Dlo'ay azhi Community School, located on the Navajo Nation reservation in Prewitt, New Mexico, serves students in kindergarten through grade six. The building incorporates Native American cultural concepts including an orientation that reflects the meanings associated with the four cardinal directions. The name means "little prairie dog" in Navajo.
A number of strategies contributed to the project's environmental responsibility and its LEED(r) Certification. Light-colored materials were used for the majority of the building site's impervious surfaces, keeping the site more comfortable and reducing its contribution to the heat-island effect. Parking was kept to a minimum, and employees and visitors are encouraged to carpool or bicycle to the school. The school also has the capacity to charge electric vehicles.
Energy use at the school is expected to be 20% lower than in a comparable, conventional facility. This was accomplished through the use of daylighting, low-emissivity windows, shading, an efficient mechanical system, and a sophisticated energy-management system. The school has also purchases wind power for half of its energy use. Water use is kept low through the use of low-flow faucets and native, xeric landscaping. The school is expected to use at least 30% less water than a comparable, conventional facility.
Materials were selected for their recycled content and their proximity to the building site. More than 60% of the building materials, by cost, were sourced within 500 miles of the site. Several factors, including daylighting, air filtration, a track-off entryway system, and a green housekeeping plan, contribute to a healthy indoor environment.