The new science and library building at Crossroads College Preparatory School, located in the city of St. Louis, is seeking LEED Platinum certification.  If obtained, it will be the first K-12 school in St. Louis to earn certification.  Head of School Billy Handmaker* was committed to achieving the highest level of certification possible, while still spending within the budget and ending up with a good looking building.  He said, "from the beginning, we said 'we want Platinum, but won't compromise."

The renovated sections are great examples of building reuse.  The site was a skating rink during the 1904 World's Fair and a grocery store after that.  Reusable elements, such as the original Terrazzo floor from the grocery store, were kept in place.  Some of the other green features include:


  • Dimmable skylights that run low when there's abundant natural light;
  • 94% of construction waste was recycled;
  • Light tubes with diffusers that provide natural light in hallways;
  • "Borrow Lights" that cast natural light into the hallways;
  • Adjustable thermostats that vary only 2 degrees up or down;
  • CO2 sensors in each classroom;
  • No-VOC paints and FSC certified woods;
  • Solar hot water heaters on the roof to supply hot water to labs;
  • Landscaping with indigenous Missouri plants;
  • High performance windows and exterior shading;
  • Low-flow faucets and urinals and a rain garden;
  • Organic produce grown by AP earth science students that is served in school's cafeteria; and
  • Classroom white boards made of recycled glass on white painted walls.

Students were encouraged to contribute to the design process.  Hanna Norwood, now a freshman at the University of Chicago, was brought in as a design liaison her junior year of high school: "They showed us things like furniture and said 'what is going to work for you?'"  And the students contributed feedback to influence the final design. 

As one might expect, integrating LEED into a school can bring unforeseen surprises.  Most notably, the new chemistry lab has a wall of tall, south-facing windows that shower natural light into the classroom.  As it goes, the emergency eye-wash station, which is standard in any chemistry lab, has a bright orange shower-head that birds see through the windows and mistake for a giant flower.  Billy Handmaker said they're going to install bird feeders to help with the problem. 

Below is a photo of the chemistry lab under construction with the orange shower-head on the left.



*Full disclosure: Billy Handmaker was a teacher at this author's high school before taking the position at Crossroads.

Photos Courtesy of Crossroads College Preparatory School.