Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Mon, Aug. 10

Hopi Tribe's First Mesa Elementary earns 2007 environmental award

From left: Beverly Moran, BIA Procurement; Emerson Eskeets, BIA-OFMC; Phil Sarracino, BIA-OFMC; Larry Broeren, Kitchell; Jeff Begay, Kitchell; P. Lynn Scarlett, DOI; Jack Rever, BIA; and Brad Gabel, Kitchell (Courtesy photo).

From left: Beverly Moran, BIA Procurement; Emerson Eskeets, BIA-OFMC; Phil Sarracino, BIA-OFMC; Larry Broeren, Kitchell; Jeff Begay, Kitchell; P. Lynn Scarlett, DOI; Jack Rever, BIA; and Brad Gabel, Kitchell (Courtesy photo).

POLACCA-Just one year after the Hopi Tribe's First Mesa Elementary School earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U. S. Green Building Council-making it the first LEED-certified primary school in Arizona-the project has once again garnered national recognition.

The U.S. Department of Interior awarded the First Mesa Elementary School, located in Polacca on the Hopi reservation, a 2007 Department of Interior Environmental Achievement Award for sustainable design/green buildings. A panel of judges from U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) bureaus and offices, chaired by the director of the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance, selected the award recipients. The awards ceremony took place in Washington, D.C., Nov. 27.

In making the award, DOI Deputy Secretary P. Lynn Scarlett emphasized the "creative management" and "holistic perspective" exhibited by the project team to successfully achieve certification, including engaging with tribal religious leaders during the process to address their reverence for the land, wildlife and humans and how the project would affect each.

The First Mesa project team included the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Office of Facilities Management and Construction (OFMC) in Albuquerque, N.M.; the Hopi Indian Tribe steering committee; Albuquerque-based and Native American-owned architect Dyron Murphy; and Kitchell's Native American Division in Phoenix.

Accepting the award on behalf of the construction project team were Brad Gabel, vice president of Kitchell's Native American Division; and Larry Broeren and Jeff Begay, project director and business development manager, respectively, for the division.

Kitchell provided construction manager at-risk services (CMAR) on the 74,000-square-foot educational facility, helping it achieve LEED certification in 2006 through sustainable design and construction practices. Among First Mesa's environmentally friendly features are 100 skylights, maple-wood gymnasium floors harvested from a replanted forest and toxin-free carpets and adhesives. Highly insulated walls and roofing reduce energy consumption, while low-flow faucets cut water usage. Kitchell was also able to divert more than 75 percent of construction waste from the landfill through an aggressive recycling program.

According to Begay, the CMAR project-delivery method encouraged the collaboration necessary among client, architect and contractor to achieve environmental goals.

"The Bureau of Indian Affairs wanted the Hopi Tribe to design and build the First Mesa school in an environmentally responsible manner," says Begay, "and meet LEED certification standards."

That meant value engineering the design to identify alternative materials, methods and procedures to meet those standards.

Begay said the CMAR process allowed the team to capitalize on the value engineering process, so the LEED certification could occur.

"It took a team effort with the Hopi steering committee and the architect to agree on design changes and incorporate practices needed to achieve green building," he noted.

The First Mesa Elementary School, which completed construction in 2004, became the first Kitchell project to earn LEED certification. Since that time, Kitchell has successfully brought the principles and practice of LEED to several other projects, including Northern Arizona University's Applied Research and Development facility. The NAU facility recently received LEED Platinum certification, the highest level of certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Kitchell is one of the nation's top construction manager/general contractors with more than 25 LEED accredited professionals on staff to help clients meet USGBC and Energy Star standards.

Kitchell's Native American Division is dedicated exclusively to managing projects for Native American communities throughout the West. Learn more at

The LEED® Green Building Rating System is the national benchmark for the design, construction and operations of high-performance green buildings. Learn more about LEED at For more information about the 2007 Department of Interior Environmental Achievement Awards, visit

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