Long Island's newest public school, due to open March 3 in Eastport, is winning praise from national and state authorities as a model of energy efficiency and environmental excellence.
The 60,000-square-foot Tuttle Avenue School carries a top gold-certified rating from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, a national organization that encourages advanced construction techniques.
State education officials said Monday they believed the $26 million school is the first in New York to obtain a gold designation. Ken Slentz, a deputy education commissioner, told members of the state Board of Regents, who approved the school's registration Monday morning, that the building features "state-of-the-art education amenities."
Registration means the school is ready to open as part of the Eastport-South Manor system, which straddles the border between Brookhaven and Southampton towns.
The school, which will house 350 students in kindergarten through second grade, will be heated by five geothermal wells drilled down to 160 feet, as well as by solar panels. The school makes substantial use of natural light, and its electronic sensors will be able to turn lights on and off in classrooms and to dim lights closest to windows.
Eastport-South Manor school administrators originally planned to open the new building in September. However, construction was slowed by effects of superstorm Sandy that struck a year earlier. Construction began in the spring of 2012.
Tuttle Avenue School's 25 classrooms will replace prefabricated rooms that were originally erected in the 1980s and will be demolished once students transfer. Another of the school's architectural points of interest is a circular library-media center with high-ceilinged windows.
The district superintendent, Mark A. Nocero, said 95 percent of the school's costs were paid through state aid. In large part, this is because the district receives special financial assistance as a reward for consolidating two smaller systems. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the merger.
"It's a great celebration for us," Nocero said.