Radnor Middle School sets example in Sustainability


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Radnor Middle School sets example in Sustainability

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Radnor Middle School sets example in Sustainability

  1. 1. ENVIRONMENTALSOLUTIONS Radnor Middle School Sets Example in Sustainability By Gustavo I. Perea E nvironmentally friendly practices are being embraced for all types of construction projects. Schools—from elementary schools to colleges and universities—are leading the charge. The most obvious reason is for the protection of the environment for future generations. Other factors that have made sustainability a top priority for many schools include the following: • Positive health impacts resulting from improved air quality • Financial savings realized from energy and water conservation Radnor Middle School in Wayne, Pennsylvania, took the plunge into the green pool for a combination of the reasons above. The Geothermal Heating System Middle School Building Project Committee not only required the The geothermal heating and cooling system uses a series of 144 design and construction teams to build a school that supported the 500-foot-deep wells, transferring the thermal energy to and from the philosophy of middle-level education, but to also use “green” building ground. The system uses no fossil fuels and has no harmful greenhouse principles. As a result, the school received a $25,000 grant award from gas emissions. It is coupled to heat-recovery systems that extract the Pennsylvania State Public School Building Authority for High typically wasted heat from exhaust air prior to leaving the building. Performance Green School Planning. The incoming air is dehumidified, as well as filtrated using high- In September 2007, 1,000 students in grades 6, 7, and 8 walked into efficiency air filters. the doors of their new, almost 195,000-square-foot, environmentally The school also has heat and motion sensors to help conserve friendly middle school. The four-story instructional wing that was energy. If a room is empty or has enough natural light coming in, connected to large group spaces by an open lobby was built with the sensors will turn off the lights. There are also classroom carbon numerous green building features. The Middle School Building dioxide monitors that trigger the system to bring in more fresh air Project Committee set its requirements for going green even before when the carbon dioxide levels get too high. the U.S. Green Building Council developed its LEED (Leadership The school district has estimated that the geothermal system alone in Energy & Environmental Design) rating system. Although LEED has reduced operating costs from $1.50 per square foot to $1.16 per certification is not a requirement, the owner, architect (Blackney square foot. Hayes Architects), and contractors are pursuing certification, expecting to achieve the silver status but aiming for gold. Recycled Materials One of the primary requirements of the Middle School Building Vegetative Roofing Project Committee was the use of recycled materials in the Sustainable construction practices were used across the project, construction process. Recycled materials for floors, carpets, ceiling including the roof. Vegetative roof systems were installed on the flat tiles, counters, and tack boards were used. For example, the lobby roofs to provide for evapotransportation and a reduced heat island floor used recycled glass shards embedded in it versus the less effect from the roof of the new building. The 3-inch organic material, environmentally friendly granite chips often used. Also, using local combined with the sedum growth medium, provides oxygen back into and regional manufactured goods within a 500-mile radius of Radnor the atmosphere and lengthens the life of the roof underneath. It also helped reduce transportation pollution during construction. helps in stormwater management by using some of the rainfall for Recycling is also a key component to LEED certification. Adams- growth, while cooling the building from the sun’s rays. Bickel ensured that the building materials consisted of recycled In other areas, an asphalt roof was used with “cool membrane,” content and that construction waste was recycled throughout the light-colored roofing material to provide increased light reflectivity project. The goal for the Radnor Middle School was to recycle 75 and reduced heat in the building. percent of all waste produced during the construction process. In the end, 85 percent of waste by weight was diverted to landfills through Rain Garden recycling. In two areas outside of the building and within the student entry courtyard, there are indigenous plants that absorb substantial amounts Going for Gold of water through a groundwater-recharge system installed underneath. The final project was completed in June 2008. Documentation has The bus loop and parking areas also have groundwater-recharge been submitted to the U.S. Green Building Council under the Gold systems installed beneath to absorb excess water. certification standards. Aboutthe Gustavo I. Perea is president of Adams-Bickel Associates, Inc., an award-winning contractor Author serving private and public clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic region based in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit www.adamsbickel.com or call 800.767.4204.28 | DECEMBER2008 www.moderncontractorsolutions.com