Third Creek Elementary


Floor plan
These blueprints show the Third Creek floor plan.
Credit: Moseley Architects
This architectural section highlights some of Third Creek's daylighting features.
Credit: Moseley Architects
The entrance corridor at Third Creek, shown in this photograph, is daylit.
Credit: Spark Productions
The Third Creek lobby, shown in this photograph, is daylit with clerestory windows.
Credit: Spark Productions
Third Creek Elementary is shown in this architectural elevation.
Credit: Moseley Architects
This map shows the site's location relative to the surrounding Statesville area.
Credit: Moseley Architects
Waterless urinals and recycled content tile
Waterless urinals and recycled content tile are visible in this photo.
Credit: Moseley Architects/Moseley Wilkins & Wood
FSC Certified wood doors
The wood doors shown here are FSC certified.
Credit: Moseley Architects/Moseley Wilkins & Wood
Strawboard core casework
The casework shown here has a strawboard core
Credit: Moseley Architects/Moseley Wilkins & Wood
Classroom with lightshelf
This photo of a classroom shows interior lightshelves on the south-facing windows.
Credit: Spark Productions
Third Creek Elementary School
The front entrance at Third Creek Elementary School is shown in this photo.
Credit: Moseley Architects/Moseley Wilkins & Wood

General Information

Quick Facts


Statesville, NC

Building Type

  • Education
  • Elementary or Middle School

Project Information

Project Owner

Iredell-Statesville Schools

Occupant Type

Local government

After the local community decided that a new elementary school would serve their needs best, Third Creek Elementary consolidated two aging schools, one that served Kindergarten through grade 2 and another that served grades 3 through 5. Many educational and community use features are incorporated into the design. The administrative offices are located at the main entrance to have good supervision of all visitors. The grade levels are broken down into smaller "houses" comprised of two grade levels each. The gymnasium, stage, and dining room are located so they may operate after hours for community use, while the academic portion of the building is secured.

Environmental Aspects

Third Creek Elementary School is the first K-12 facility to earn a LEED v2.0 Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The computer models of this building show a reduction in annual energy costs by 25% over the ASHRAE 90.1-1999 guidelines. Energy demand was lowered through energy-efficient equipment and design, including extensive daylighting.

Waterless urinals and low-flow plumbing fixtures reduce water consumption more than 30% beyond the requirements of the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

The majority of building materials were selected for their contribution to a healthy indoor environment or other environmentally responsible attributes.

Indoor Spaces

  • Classroom
  • 4% Gymnasium
  • Office
  • Public assembly
  • 4% Cafeteria
  • Lobby/reception
  • Restrooms
  • Circulation

Outdoor Spaces

  • Drives/roadway
  • Playground
  • Patio/hardscape
  • Parking
  • Shade structures/outdoor rooms
  • Garden--decorative
  • Restored landscape
  • Interpretive Landscape
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Athletic field

Location Details


361 East Barkley Road, Statesville, NC

Site context/setting



Typical Number of Permanent Occupants


Owner Occupied


Owner Type

Local government

Average Hours Per Permanent Occupant


Ratings & Awards

U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC,

2002, Gold (39 points), Third Creek Elementary School achieved "Innovation in Design" credits for an "Educational Outreach Program", "Wood Preservative Materials (non-CCA), and "Organic Landscape Techniques".

Building Details



Total Gross Floor Area 92,000 ft²


Building unit or complex: Described project is a single building
Number of Stories 1
Percent New 100%



July 2002

Architectural Details


There was an explicit emphasis on environmentally friendly materials during the design and construction of Third Creek.

Recycled-content materials were specified throughout the building; over 50% of the building materials contain, in aggregate, a minimum weighted average of 20% post-consumer recycled content or a minimum weighted average of 40% post-industrial recycled content.

Strawboard, a rapidly renewable agricultural byproduct, was used in lieu of particleboard in the construction of the casework in each classroom. Strawboard is manufactured without formaldehyde-based resins.

The wood for all doors throughout the building comes from forests certified as sustainably managed, according to the Forest Stewardship Council's guidelines. None of the wood materials used at this site were treated with chromium or arsenic.

Over 50% of the building materials, by cost, were manufactured within 500 miles of the project site.

Indoor Environment Quality

Indoor Environment

Indoor Environment Issues

A construction indoor air quality management plan was developed by the design team (including the owner, architect, mechanical engineer, and commissioning agent) and the contractors (including the general contractor, the mechanical contractor, and the painting subcontractor). This plan focused on:

  • Protecting materials and equipment from contamination,
  • Controlling pollutant sources through material selection,
  • Physically separating pollutant sources from the building interior,
  • Good housekeeping,
  • Scheduling material installation to prevent contamination, and
  • Testing indoor air quality after construction.

Adherence to the first 5 areas of the plan were shown to be successful by the final results of the indoor air quality testing.

An indoor air quality management plan was adhered to throughout construction. Low-VOC finish materials were specified. Classrooms have operable windows, and the building is equipped with a permanent temperature, humidity, and carbon-dioxide monitoring system.

Incorporate light shelves on the south facade
Orient the floor plan on an east-west axis for best control of daylighting
Provide heat-recovery ventilation
Maintain relative humidity levels between 30% and 60%
Provide occupants with access to operable windows
Review the Material Safety Data Sheet when evaluating construction materials
Use only very low or no-VOC paints
Avoid urea formaldehyde particleboard
Design building envelope to avoid thermal bridging
Commission the mechanical and electrical systems prior to occupancy


Design Process


The building owners, the architects, and the engineers, as a team, made an explicit commitment to high performance design before any design work began. This commitment was the result of a full-day meeting in which a school board member, the superintendent's office, the school district's construction manager and building operator, the architects, and the engineers discussed, in detail, the high-performance strategies appropriate for this project's overall goals, budget, and timeline. The results of this meeting guided the team through design and construction.


Throughout all phases of design, the high-performance strategies were revisited by the design team to ensure they remained evident in the final product. The architect and the mechanical engineer worked very closely regarding the energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality features of the building. Specifications and construction drawings were reviewed to ensure instruction regarding the high-performance strategies was clear to the contractors.


Throughout construction, the construction administrator monitored compliance to the high-performance elements and collected documentation to ensure all strategies were met.

Operations and Maintenance:

Users are educated on an annual basis about the environmentally friendly features of this facility so they can understand their role in maintaining the building's high-performance status.


An independent commissioning agent was hired by the owner, and commissioned the facility in accordance with the fundamental systems commissioning prerequisite in the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Rating System.


A permanent measurement system has been installed to track long-term energy performance.

Useful Information Resources:

The resources at BuildingGreen, Inc. (Environmental Building News and the GreenSpec Product Directory) were quite valuable as educational resources for those on the design team.

The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Reference Guide and Credit Interpretation Rulings were used to ensure compliance with the individual points pursued in this project.

Design Tools

General Modelling Information

  • Trane Trace was used for energy simulation.

Lessons Learned

Discuss goals that were met and goals that were not achieved, and the reasons for these outcomes

This building was designed on a typical elementary school budget and timeline, with atypical high-performance building goals. Accordingly, tradeoffs had to be made and lessons were learned along the way.

Doing calculations and energy models early in the design process is recommended, as is collecting documentation as goals are met. In several cases, clear deadlines for documentation were absent from the project's schedule, which complicated the documentation-collection process. In future high-performance projects, documentation requirements will be highlighted in the project's schedule and pay applications will be tied to critical documentation requirements.

Clear communication between the designers and the contractor is essential for the successful execution of a high-performance design. When the contractor understands the reasoning behind modifications to standard practice, s/he is often able and willing to exceed expectations. In future projects, separate meetings for high-performance strategies will be held throughout the construction phase to ensure that all team members, especially contractors not involved in the design work, understand the details of the strategies before construction commences.



How the Project was Financed

The funds were appropriated by the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education.

The design team used the LEED version 2.0 Green Building Rating System to guide consideration of a variety of sustainable-design strategies. At the outset of the design process, each strategy was assessed for its applicability to the project's overall goals, budget, and timeline. As part of the budget-related assessments, any first-cost impacts the project might incur were highlighted, as were the long-term financial and educational benefits. This assessment of costs and benefits was reviewed with the facility operator, the superintendent, and the school board.

From the list of potential strategies, the facility operator, superintendent, and school board selected those that most closely supported the educational goals at the school. The design team was able to incorporate these strategies because they were introduced so early in the design process, within the established project budget and timeline. No additional financing strategies or partnerships were necessary. When the construction bids were opened, all were pleased to learn that the construction costs came in under the project budget!

Total Project Cost


Project Costs

Property Acquisition Costs


Project Costs


Financing Mechanisms

Procurement process
  • Design-bid-build

General Energy


Energy Use

Energy-related issues were addressed from architectural, engineering, and end-user perspectives.

The building is oriented along an east-west axis and has overhangs on the southern facade that shade windows from the summer sun. Interior lightshelves are included in all classrooms to promote the dispersion of natural daylight deeper into the classroom spaces. The building has above-average insulation levels, including an R-45 roof, R-22 walls, and low-emissivity windows. The entire roof surface meets EPA EnergyStar criteria.

Four levels of lighting control are available in each classroom. Light switches for different classroom lighting zones are located in different locations around the room to ensure that users have to make a conscious effort to turn on only lights that are needed. Lights are also controlled by occupancy sensors and building-wide control systems to ensure lights are off when spaces are not in use.

Mechanical and electrical equipment was selected based on energy-efficiency criteria. High-efficiency water-source heat pumps were selected, with the option to couple the system with geothermal wells in the future. Pumps are controlled with variable frequency drives, to match actual loads, and the cooling tower is designed with five levels of control to match loads with minimal energy input. Boilers have a thermal efficiency of 97%. Energy recovery ventilators capture heat from the exhaust air, filter incoming air, and maintain appropriate humidity levels in the building at all times. A direct digital control system maintains building conditions and provides data for long-term measurement and verification of building performance. Temperature control is provided on a classroom-by-classroom basis.

While Third Creek Elementary was sited with proper solar orientation as a driving factor, the ability to expand the building for future growth was also of paramount importance during the design process. Sufficient land was set aside for possible expansion, and the cafeteria was also sized and constructed such that a middle school, also with proper solar orientation, could easily be added in the future.

The mechanical system was designed such that it can be easily coupled with a geothermal well field at a future date, as well. Due to the properly oriented roof surface, photovoltaic equipment can also be added to the school's roof at a future date.

Energy Datasets

Dataset NameYearTypePurchased Energy (kBtu/ft²)


Project Team

Chris Venable
Moseley Architects
Project Manager
Jim Copeland AIA
Moseley Architects
Principal in Charge
Steve Hostetler PE
Timmons Group
Civil engineer
Gretchen Coleman
Engineering Economics, Inc
Commissioning agent
David Smith PE
Design Engineering, Inc
Electrical engineer
Bryna Dunn AICP
Moseley Architects
Environmental building consultant
3200 Norfolk Street
Richmond, VA, 23230
Luigi Mignardi ASLA
Timmons Group
Landscape architect
Chris Stroupe PE
Consultant Engineering Services, Inc
Plumbing Engineer
Mechanical engineer
Victor McBryde
Brooks General Contractors
David Mykins PE
Stroud Pence & Associates
Structural engineer
Julia Williams Ed.D.
Iredell-Statesville Schools
Former Superintendent
Rob Jackson
Iredell-Statesville Schools
Construction manager
Mary Bruce Serene
Iredell-Statesville School
School Board Member

Site Information


Total Building Site Area

3,218,648 ft²

Building Footprint Area

96,600 ft²

Land Use Description

Third Creek Elementary School was developed to consolidate children attending two deteriorating schools--one that served K-2 and another that served grades 3-5--and to provide extra capacity for the rapidly growing population in the county. The community also needed space for public recreational activities, so the gymnasium and multi-purpose room were designed for after-hours community access, while the academic portions of the building remain secured.

The parking lot was designed according to the minimum required parking spaces dictated by local zoning. Three carpool spaces are located in the area of the lot nearest the main entrance. In addition, permanent bicycle securing apparatus was installed immediately adjacent to the main entrance, with shower facilities and lockers (for cycling adults) just inside. The Iredell-Statesville Schools bus system provides mass transportation for students attending Third Creek Elementary School.

The environmental sensitivity of the school design made such a large impact on the students and the community that the Parent Teacher Association distributed green T-shirts, which the students wear proudly.

Avoid building on a flood-prone property
Provide incentives for non-automobile commuting options
Provide vehicle access to support car and vanpooling
Provide storage area for bicycles
Provide showers and changing areas for bicycle and pedestrian commuters

Avoid building on a flood-prone property
Provide incentives for non-automobile commuting options
Provide vehicle access to support car and vanpooling
Provide storage area for bicycles
Provide showers and changing areas for bicycle and pedestrian commuters

Avoid building on a flood-prone property
Provide incentives for non-automobile commuting options
Provide vehicle access to support car and vanpooling
Provide storage area for bicycles
Provide showers and changing areas for bicycle and pedestrian commuters

Avoid building on a flood-prone property
Provide incentives for non-automobile commuting options
Provide vehicle access to support car and vanpooling
Provide storage area for bicycles
Provide showers and changing areas for bicycle and pedestrian commuters

Site Description

Third Creek Elementary is located on a greenfield site in central Iredell County, North Carolina. It was evaluated to ensure that the building was located responsibly within the site, staying clear of prime agricultural land, floodplains, wetlands, and habitat that supports endangered or threatened species. The limits of construction disturbance were held to within 40 feet of the construction zone, which allowed 60% of the site to remain untouched by heavy machinery.

The entire roof surface at Third Creek Elementary meets Energy Star criteria, which will ensure that this building does not contribute to the urban heat island effect.

A wet pond was designed to serve double duty as a stormwater management facility and an outdoor classroom for science, math, writing, and art. All of the trees planted on the site were selected to be fast growing and drought resistant, and will shade at least 30% of the impervious surfaces within 5 years (which will help keep those surfaces cool during the warm summer months). Neither pesticides nor herbicides were sprayed on the site during landscaping activities, and the school district has adopted an Integrated Pest Management program to maintain the landscape and the school building, itself.

Originally, rainwater was going to be harvested from the wet pond and used to irrigate the site. However, the team determined that the environmental and financial benefit of deleting a permanent irrigation system altogether was a superior strategy to using rainwater for irrigation purposes. Therefore, all landscaping materials were explicitly chosen to be native and drought resistant species, allowing the elimination of a permanent irrigation system.

A series of "Learning Gardens" is located in the courtyards between the grade wings. Students will plant these learning gardens with drought-resistant native vegetation. Wild grasses, wildflowers, and native trees and shrubbery are also planted throughout the disturbed areas.

Perhaps the most notable water-conserving feature at the school is the inclusion of waterless urinals. Coupled with other low-flow plumbing fixtures, the overall water use at Third Creek is modeled to be more than 30% lower than the Energy Policy Act of 1992 baseline. In the first 4 months of building occupancy, less than 68,000 gallons of water were used.

Avoid building on or degrading wetlands
Provide for solar access
Restrict vehicle access during construction to reduce damage to vegetation
Use the least toxic treatment methods and materials for pest control around new buildings
Plant trees to shade parked vehicles
Landscape with indigenous vegetation

Site Conditions

  • Previously undeveloped land



Water Use / Conservation Description

Install showerheads using less than 2.2 gallons per minute
Specify waterless urinals
Design a constructed wetland for pollutant removal from stormwater