Following in the footsteps of the town's three new elementary schools, the Waterford High School renovation is “on track” to achieve a silver LEED certification, JCJ Architect William Ayles said Tuesday.
LEED certification is based on how sustainable and efficient the building is, among other things, according to the United States Green Building Council. For the Waterford High School project, that includes everything from installing a geothermal heating system to possibly installing 47 bike racks on school grounds, Ayles said.
Quaker Hill Elementary School, which was renovated in 2008, was the first public school in Connecticut to earn LEED certification under LEED’s new 2.0 rating system, according to a July Waterford School District press release. Oswegatchie School and Great Neck School, which were built in 2009 and 2010, are expected to earn LEED certifications as well, School Building Committee Chairman Alan Wilensky said.
“There are some cost savings involved with making a building LEED certified,” Wilensky said. “And there is some pride that we have a public school that is LEED certified.”
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was developed by the United States Green Building Council in 2000 to encourage architects to design buildings to be more efficient and sustainable, according to LEED’s website. LEED measures how sustainable a site is, a building's water and energy efficiency, how renewable its materials are, the indoor environmental quality of the building and the awareness and education of the owners of the building, according to the site.
To earn a silver LEED certification, a school project has to meet at least 50 of 100 goals laid out by LEED. The Waterford High School project has already met 36 goals, and should meet at least 16 more, Ayles said.
The 100 goals vary in cost and scope. For example, the indoor lights are all on motion sensor to save on electricity, the doors have a bamboo veneer because bamboo is a renewable resource and the roof is a light gray because it reflects light, Wilensky said.
There are other goals that focus on making the high school usable for things other than school. For example, Waterford High School was awarded one LEED point because several features of the school (playing fields, meeting rooms) can be used by the community as well, according to a document handed out by Ayles.
While there are some costs to becoming LEED certified, much of those costs are made back through utility savings, Wilensky said. It also ensures the building is “environmentally sensitive,” Project Manager Gus Kotait of O & G Industries said.