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Waterford High School Project "On Track" For LEED Certification

School Will Follow The Town's Three Elementary Schools And Shoot For LEED Certification

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.”

About LEED

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.

Waterford Guy February 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM
It's great that they are trying to cut down on utility costs for the new high school, but wouldn't it be more "green" and "sustainable" to not build something that resembles the Taj Mahal? It might be nice to have this massive monument, but if the students are not getting a better education, than the whole project is pointless.
David Irons February 22, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Thank you, Robert. That has been mine and my wife's thoughts as we have watched this massive effort reach its present stage. All the money in the world isn't going to improve our students' educations. Nor will massive new structures. Much of this money could be far better invested in our community. Or, it could have been left in our pocket to begin with.
Foofaraw February 22, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Were there any projections as to Waterfords future needs for classroom size and space? While it looks likes a Boondoggle, apparence can be deceiving. I am not sure of the square footage of the new structure but perhaps when the old school is removed it may not appear so monolithic. Then again, I was also under the impression the number of students was in decline, once again suggesting wasted taxpayers monies, the Waterford trend.
John Sheehan February 22, 2012 at 04:26 PM
The High School was sized for about 1050 students, the projected enrollment for the next ten years or so. Waterford's population has stayed stable between 18,000 and 20,000 for the past twenty plus years and is not expected to grow that much in the next twenty years. The new high school will permit the students to be ready for the twenty first century. A lot has changed in the past fifty years, especially how the younger generation processes information. It is entirely different from the way my generation processes information.

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