School Aces LEED Rating

When school administrators at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., considered an upgrade of its middle school building, they decided it should live up to the school's Quaker ideal of environmental stewardship. To offer a learning environment that would increase the productivity of students and faculty, they decided that the building would have to be transformed into a LEED Platinum-certified facility.

They accomplished their goals in the $21 million construction project with the help of a lighting system designed by Benya Lighting Design, Portland, Ore., and the EcoSystem lighting control system manufactured by Lutron Electronics Co, Inc., Coopersburg, Pa. The Sidwell School was certified as LEED Platinum in October 2006, the first school in the nation to achieve this certification. Lighting energy consumption has been cut by 92 percent, and overall energy use has been reduced by 55 percent.

From its inception in 1883, this private independent school, serving pre-K through 12 on two campuses in Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Md., has taught hundreds of students from the area, including children of U.S. presidents. As the facility manager for the school since 1981, Steve Sawyer must accommodate a variety of individual security needs for these high-profile families while, at the same time, provide a comfortable learning environment for teachers and students alike. On top of these duties, Sawyer recently was given an additional mandate: The middle school building had to set an example for environmental consciousness, exceeding the eco-friendly standard of every other secondary school in the country. Ground was broken in June 2005 and the project (a renovation of 37,000 square feet and a new 39,000-square-foot addition) was completed in September 2006. The project incorporated a variety of sustainable design features, including the following:

·Lutron's EcoSystem lighting control solution provides energy-efficient fluorescent lighting, integrating daylight sensors, occupancy sensors and dimming ballasts.
·A light shelf incorporated into the faÇade transmits daylight deep into the building while shading the corridors from direct sun.
·Exterior walls of the addition and third floor of the existing building are sheathed with western red cedar cladding, sunscreens and high-performance windows.
·Five percent of the overall building's electrical load is to be generated by photovoltaic panels.

Depending on their proximity to the windows, EcoSystem sensors dim rows of lights to different levels to take advantage of natural light while providing an even illumination in the room. A light shelf and the EcoSystem work in tandem to achieve energy efficiency in corridors and elsewhere in the building. “It's been a lot of work for us,” says Sawyer. “But the results have been gratifying for everyone. Virtually every design feature took environmental responsibility into account and that, in turn, sends the right message to the kids who attend here.”

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