Quaker Hill Elementary School, designed by Jacunski Humes Architects, LLC of Berlin, CT, and constructed by O&G Industries, of Torrington, CT, achieved LEED certification for energy, lighting, water and materials use as well as incorporating a variety of sustainable strategies. By using less water and energy for heating and cooling, a LEED certified building saves money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduces greenhouse gas emissions; and contributes to a healthier environment for residents, staff, and students in our community.
Quaker Hill Elementary School, which originally opened in 1915, had a rebirth in 2008 when a new school was built on the same site. While it replicates the original structure on the outside, inside it is a state-of-the-art, green school.
Every aspect of the new structure, from floor to ceiling, has a high-tech, low-maintenance, green concept. Some of the floors are polished concrete, which is good for indoor air quality because it’s a solid surface that requires little or no maintenance beyond washing. Low VOC materials used in the building provide improved indoor environmental quality. The carpet in the common areas is made from recycled materials. If the carpet gets flooded, there is no moisture infiltration between the top and bottom. Most of the materials in the building are 100 percent natural.
The wood doors are bamboo, a rapidly renewable resource. The windows are the new gas-filled, low-energy type. Energy use has been further reduced by increasing insulation and glazing. Lighting is sensor-driven, motion-activated and depending on how bright it is outside, the lights are self-adjusting, which cuts down on electrical use. The roof is also made with reflective materials to reduce heat buildup. In the bathrooms, solar light powers the faucets, and there are waterless urinals which save thousands of gallons of water per year. Potable water consumption is also reduced through low flow fixtures, reduced site irrigation and on-site storm water controls.
The heating and air-conditioning systems are geothermal, drawing warmth from deep in the ground during winter and transferring heat from the building back into the ground during summer. A closed loop system coming from 500 feet below ground enters the building’s storage unit at a temperature of 55 degrees. It takes far less energy to bring it to a comfortable level for either heating or cooling the building.
Quaker Hill Elementary School is the first public school in Connecticut to earn certification under the LEED for Schools 2.0 rating system. There are two other Connecticut projects that have earned certification under this new rating system, both private schools. They are the Greenwich Academy Middle School and the Math & Technology Center at Kingswood Oxford.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Nearly 40,000 projects are currently participating in the commercial and institutional LEED rating system, comprising nearly 8 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 120 countries. In addition, more than 11,000 homes have been certified under the LEED for Homes rating system, with more than 52,000 homes registered.