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Bozeman’s second high school will be constructed to environmental standards tailored to schools, rather than the better-known LEED building standards.

Superintendent Rob Watson said this week school officials chose the Collaborative for High Performance Schools standards, often abbreviated to CHPS or “Chips.”

They chose CHPS not because it was cheaper, he said, but because it has many of the same features, and CHPS’ standards “are geared toward K-12 schools.”

“It’s being used in Washington state,” Watson said. “It has been adopted for all their schools.”

Using CHPS will cost about $140,000, or roughly $10,000 less than LEED, he said.

Earlier this month the School Board unanimously approved the architects’ and engineers’ 143-page schematic or preliminary design for the new school and within it was the recommendation to use CHPS.

Just like the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system, Watson said, an outside third party will verify that the new school meets CHPS’ environmental standards.

CHPS also has a long checklist that gives schools points for saving energy, using daylight and making buildings safe, warm and healthy. And if the new school can earn at least 110 points out of a possible 250, CHPS will provide a plaque labeling the building a “CHPS verified” school.

This summer several members of the public urged the School Board to stick with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), because it was more familiar and would ensure that the new school meets LEED Silver standards, as the public was promised during the bond election.

Trustees were split and in July voted to leave it up to Watson to investigate and decide. Some questioned whether verification by an outside party was worth the cost, and Watson decided it was important.

The schematic design report includes a CHPS checklist, showing in detail how the Bozeman project will aim to earn 125 environmental points.

Some of the biggest points would be earned for its air heating and ventilation system, acoustics, energy efficiency, minimizing indoor water use and managing construction waste.

Engineers are still testing wells to see if geothermal energy can be used to heat and cool the building, Watson said. School officials think solar panels are still not affordable, but they plan to make the building “solar ready” so panels could be easily added in the future, he said.

Todd Swinehart, district facilities director, said CHPS will give the new school points for things like sharing the building with other groups after school, like community basketball teams, and using the building’s environmental features as a teaching tool in classes.

More information on the CHPS rating system and the detailed checklist can be found on pages 25 and 118 of the schematic design report (http://bit.ly/2xc93Gy).

Voters passed a $125 million bond issue in May to build a second high school and renovate Bozeman High, to keep up with rapid growth in student enrollment. The new school will be built on 57 acres bordered by West Oak Street and Flanders Mill, Cottonwood and Durston roads.

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Gail Schontzler can be reached at 406-582-2633 or gails@dailychronicle.com.

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