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State DOE recognizes Mill Creek for conservancy, sustainability

The State Department of Education has recognized Mill Creek Elementary School as a nominee for the U.S. Green Ribbon School Award.

Mill Creek is the system's flagship facility for sustainable design.

“Mill Creek is the system’s flagship facility for sustainable design,” Mill Creek principal Melanie Barkley said.

The award from the U.S. Department of Education recognizes schools “that are taking a comprehensive approach to ‘greening’ their school,” Barkley said. “The Madison Board of Education mandated that the building would incorporate enhanced energy systems and environmentally friendly construction.”

“A comprehensive approach incorporates and integrates environmental learning with maximizing positive environmental and health impacts. The award criteria are intended to focus on measured and verifiable outcomes wherever possible,” Barkley said.

Mill Creek was one of three Alabama nominees. Munford Elementary School and Winterboro High School won the national title.

In Montgomery, Barkley and Judy Warmth, coordinator for elementary instruction for Madison City Schools, received the state board’s commendation from state superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice and board member Mary Scott Hunter.

Mill Creek is the first North Alabama to earn LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

During construction, builders took special measure to prevent pollution and sedimentation of the adjacent Mill Creek, the school’s namesake. Parking and building layout preserve maximum, open space and preserve the creek’s natural habitat. In addition, students can access the Mill Creek Greenway for walking and bicycling.

For water efficiency, Mill Creek uses drought-tolerant landscaping and high-efficiency irrigation. Water-conserving fixtures are installed in rest rooms and the kitchen. Ample sunlight reduces electrical lighting, controlled by motion sensors.

“Careful planning and design resulted in an overall reduction in the amount of materials needed, use of materials with less environmental impact and diversion of materials from the landfill,” Barkley said.

Even the custodial staff maintains Mill Creek’s ‘green’ status with green-certified cleaning products and materials. “The products include everything from daily cleaning solutions, can liners, mops, rags and paper products to wax used on the floor yearly,” Barkley said.

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