A new Texas elementary school in the Pflugerville Independent School District creates more energy than the building consumes—earning a net-zero designation.

The two-story, 93,000 square-foot building uses geothermal heat for both electricity and heating and is equipped with LED lights throughout. Nearly 11,000 square feet of Petersen’s PAC-CLAD composite rainscreen panels were used as a strong design element in both exterior and interior applications. Petersen fabricated the panels at its Tyler, Texas, plant using 4-millimeter Reynobond aluminum composite material (ACM) finished in copper penny and silver metallic. The copper penny panels provide a dramatic look both outside and inside the new school, according to Petersen.

The composite wall panels were only 11 feet, 5/8-inches wide and eight-feet long, which is an unusual size for ACM, according to Jesse Brown, operations manager at installer Dean Contracting Co. in Kyle, Texas.

“The use of the narrow ACM panels with long spans and multiple colors was a vision of the architect to break up the façade,” says Brown. “Traditional ACM panels are generally larger. In this case, the architect wanted just the opposite. That added a bit of challenge for Petersen in fabricating the panels and for us in making sure that all of the horizontal and vertical lines matched up so that we could deliver the vision the architect wanted.” Brown credits Dean Contracting’s project manager Hermilo Sotelo and installer supervisor Javier Nieto for the job’s success.

“It was unique—the ACM transitioned to the interior space through the outside wall and formed an inviting, elevated multi-use space,” Brown adds regarding the use of PAC-CLAD products on the interior. “We paid careful attention to the shop drawings because it was critical to align the seams.”

Stantec (formally SHW Group in Austin) designed the school, and Bartlett Cocke General Contractors in Austin was the general contractor.