Although memories of elementary school for most of us may evoke images of stuffy classrooms, florescent lights, and playground bullies, students at Chartwell School located in Seaside, CA (near Monterey) are quite proud of their new school campus.  That’s because the USGBC recently gave them an A+ in green building.  In December, Chartwell students announced that they have the first complete educational campus to be awarded LEED Platinum, which makes them just about the greenest school campus in the country.  Congrats also to Sidwell Friends School in Washington DC for their LEED Platinum middle-school building.

EHDD Architecture and general contractor Ausonio, Inc. helped Chartwell School achieve the high green building rating.  According to Chartwell, here are some of their green features:

  • Daylighting/lighting controls – incorporates natural light to save electricity, reduce HVAC equipment, and contribute to an enhanced learning environment.
  • 32kW photovoltaic system – generates onsite electricity that cuts electric bills by more than half, and avoids 54,000 lbs of C02 annually.
  • Water saving features – reduces campus water use by 60% by using waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, and an 8,700 gallon rainwater cistern.
  • Sustainable framing design – Twenty-four inch (rather than 16”) framing reduced wood use by 30%, and the majority of the wood purchased was certified for sustainability by the Forest Stewardship Council.
  • Construction waste diversion – Eighty-two percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills and recycled.
  • Waste reutilization – inclusion of slag (iron-ore byproduct) improved concrete quality while reducing C02 emissions.
  • Improved indoor air quality – selection of paints, finishes, and furnishings with no VOC content reduced likelihood of irritating or toxic fumes that can trigger allergies or other negative health effects. Indoor CO2 monitors adjust ventilation rates.
  • Designed for disassembly – partnered with Environmental Protection Agency to incorporate features enabling cost-effective disassembly for classroom relocation or campus enlargement.

Creating a healthy school environment has special meaning for Chartwell because it’s mission is to educate children with language-related learning challenges such as dyslexia.  According to Chartwell, 40% of all children find learning to read the hardest academic task during their school experience.  Half of those readers actually have an innate learning difference that cuts across gender lines and often runs in families.

If school construction across the country is graded on a (green) curve, then Chartwell just set the curve pretty high.  Congrats.






Image Credit: Chartwell School/Michael David Rose Photography.