In September 2006, our Middle School faculty and students returned to a newly renovated building with an addition that almost doubled the size of the original 50-year-old building. Since then, the LEED Platinum building has attracted more than 10,000 visitors eager to see innovative green technologies in action.
Constructed wetlands use less energy to process waste than traditional municipal systems while creating habitats for plant and animal life. After first flowing through a treatment tank to remove solids, wastewater is treated using biological processes. Aquatic plants, water, microorganisms, sun, soil, sand, and air filter and clean the water. The process is completed with additional filtration of particulates and an ultra violet (UV) filter. The constructed wetland behind the Middle School building treats wastewater to the same standards as the city’s municipal system, but due to current health codes, the water is reused only in the toilets and urinals. Models show that the building uses 93% less District water by treating our sewage in the wetland and reusing the water, as well as through water-efficient landscaping.
Recycling provides another way to conserve natural resources and is a key part of the strategy to extend the lifecycle of materials. Instead of sending unneeded materials to a landfill or incinerator, recycled materials can be manufactured into new products.
- 78% of our building materials were manufactured regionally to reduce the amount of energy required to transport the material to the job site during construction.
- 11% of our building materials are from recycled sources.
- Wood from Forest Stewardship Council-certified forests was also used.
- 60% of the waste generated during construction was diverted from landfills and recycled.
The building is designed to use 60% less energy through energy efficiency and passive solar design, including ventilating and shading naturally to reduce air conditioning load and managing lights with occupancy sensors and photosensors. The roof also houses a photovoltaic array that was designed to generate 5% of the building’s electrical load.
As rain passes through the green roof, pollutants are removed, creating cleaner water for reuse or overflow discharge into municipal storm drains. The sun’s rays would eventually cause traditional roofing material to degrade. The green roof protects the sensitive waterproofing layer from the sun, extending the material’s life. Birds, insects, and other small creatures make their home on the roof. Plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. Our roof also reduces the “urban heat island effect,” which occurs when dark surfaces convert sunlight to heat and raise the temperature of the local microclimate. Cool roofs keep the building from heating up, reducing demand for air conditioning.
Health and Productivity
The optimal use of daylight in classrooms is thought to enhance the health, happiness, and ability of students to concentrate and learn. Sidwell Friends School is participating in a study of green buildings to confirm these findings. We also use low-VOC (volatile organic componds) paints, glues, and adhesives to improve air quality.
If windows are opened in certain classrooms, central heating and air conditioning systems in those rooms shut down and are replaced with a system to enhance natural ventilation. Assisted by solar chimneys that heat and draw air through vertical shafts in the building, hot air rises through convection and is exhausted above the building roof. Wind chimes in the air shafts allow students to hear air moving through the vertical shafts.
Using plant species that are drought resistant and able to thrive naturally in our area eliminates the need to irrigate, saving water and energy. Planting native species and non-invasive adaptive plant varieties preserves local biodiversity. Reintroducing natural pathways through the campus allows birds and other animals to move between the neighboring watersheds of Rock Creek Park to Glover-Archbold Park.
- Architect: KieranTimberlake Associates
- Project Management: JFW Inc.
- Mechanical Engineer: Bruce E. Brooks & Associates
- Landscape Architect: Andropogon Associates
- Civil Engineer: VIKA, Inc.
- Sustainability Consultants: GreenShape LLC and Integrative Design Collaborative
- Constructed Wetland: Natural Systems Int’l
- Lighting: Benya Lighting Design
- General Contractor: Hitt Contracting, Inc.