Fossil Ridge High School was designed to accommodate 1,800 students. Each of the school's three Learning Communities contains administrative offices, student work areas, computer labs, and student locker areas for 600 students. Core subjects such as mathematics, social studies, language arts, and special education are taught within each community. Special subjects such as science, business, language, music, culinary arts, and other electives are housed separately. Athletic and performing arts facilities are also housed separately.
The Poudre School District emphasizes energy efficiency in its buildings, along with careful siting and orientation, construction details, and proper sizing. Fossil Ridge High School was the fourth high-performance school in the district and the first school in Colorado to earn LEED certification.
Energy-efficiency was central to the building's design. A well-insulated envelope reduces heating and cooling needs, operable windows allow for natural ventilation, and daylighting reduces the need for artificial lighting. Daylight and motion sensors ensure that electric lighting is used only when necessary. The building's mechanical systems include photovoltaic panels and off-peak, ice-based, thermal energy storage.
Low-flow fixtures reduce the building's water use. Outside, xeriscaping, the use of stormwater for irrigation, and the use of artificial turf for athletic fields reduce water use for site maintenance. Many materials used in the project include recycled content, will be recyclable at the end of their life, or were regionally sourced. The team also screened materials for their effect on indoor air quality.
Green features are highlighted to teach students, staff, and visitors how green strategies have been integrated into their built environment. Window walls and color-coded heating and water pipes, for example, teach occupants about the building's mechanical systems.