Interior shot of the entrance of Papillion-La Vista Ashbury Hills elementary
Interior shot of a classroom of Papillion-La Vista Ashbury Hills elementary
Interior shot of the kitchen of Papillion-La Vista Ashbury Hills elementary
Exterior, daylight image of Papillion La Vista Ashbury Elementary
Interior shot of the dual-use gymnasium and stage area of Papillion-La Vista Ashbury Hills elementary

Ashbury Hills Elementary

Papillion, Nebraska

55,000 GSF

Addressing a critical need for the quickly expanding community, Ashbury Elementary is the latest addition to Papillion La Vista Community Schools. Ashbury Elementary sits on what was once an empty plot of undeveloped land. Its construction brought everything from roads to power and water lines to the area, paving the way for future neighborhoods.


  • The facility is the first Papillion La Vista Community Schools facility to use low voltage lighting controls to enable customizations such as programmable dimming. This allowed spaces such as the vestibule, to be programmed to dim the lights to 30% after a set period of inactivity. By doing this, the space meets the code requirements for egress lighting, while also saving energy and money.
  • The lighting controls system’s occupancy sensors serve a dual purpose in some spaces by also controlling the mechanical systems. When a sensor detects that the room is empty, it triggers the mechanical system to shut off outdoor airflow to the space, saving energy. It also triggers the heat pumps to control the temperature of the room. The insulated concrete forms used in construction also provide a boost to energy efficiency by providing additional thermal insulation and helps with humidity control by resisting moisture
  • Perhaps the greatest energy asset is the combination of geothermal energy and insulated concrete forms used for the exterior walls. Thanks to this combination, the Ashbury’s mechanical system runs 10% more efficiently this district’s next most recently completed building. Another positive note to the project was the fact that Energy Star gives a median Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 48.5 for K-12 schools. Ashbury Elementary was approximately 27% below that medium.
  • The main entrance opens into a high-ceiling Commons space with clerestory windows that allow daylight to flood the space. Mechanical systems, like ductwork, were intentionally routed outside of this space to keep the area clear for better daylight penetration, significantly improving the aesthetic without negatively impacting the budget.
  • Ashbury Elementary addressed a critical need for the expanding Papillion La Vista community. It will serve as the learning hub for new and upcoming neighborhoods, providing students with a wide variety of opportunities in classrooms, the gym, on stage, and more. Not only that, but Ashbury will also provide spaces for after-school activities such as Kids Club and Boy Scouts.
  • In addition, Ashbury Elementary was the catalyst for the establishment of the infrastructure necessary to develop new neighborhoods in the area. When construction started, the area that would become Ashbury Elementary was nothing more than an empty, undeveloped plot of land. Thanks to the school’s construction, roads and other essentials like water and power lines were routed to the area. While the school was essential in bringing infrastructure to the area, the mechanical team was also conscientious of designing systems that would not create excessive noise for future neighbors. For example, another benefit to the geothermal system is that it eliminated the need for noisy heat rejection units.

Photography credit: Tom Kessler Photography

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Floor seating facing stage right of the performing arts center.