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Wolfe School awarded LEED® Green Building Certification

UCPS construction officials have been successful in their efforts to have Wolfe School designated LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified. LEED is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

After opening its doors March of last year, Wolfe School, has attained a certification that only four other new schools in the state have been able to attain -- LEED® Certification.

LEED® is a registered trademark of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

    "I’m very excited about attaining this certification," said UCPS Executive Director of Facilities Don Hughes. "We’re doing things that are green and sustainable to be good stewards of the Earth. We should not deplete this planet’s resources. We have to leave something for our grandchildren."

    Hughes said the school system hopes to build all future elementary, middle and high schools with a green and sustainable design in mind. It’s too costly, however, to attempt to attain LEED Certification on all new structures.

    One of the reasons Wolfe School was chosen for the LEED Certification process is the special environmental needs of its students. The school’s small size (26,000 square-feet rather than the normal 96,000 square-feet of the average elementary school) also makes the design elements required for the LEED Certification more affordable.

    "The extra things you do to get LEED was a good thing for the Wolfe students because of their sensitivity to the environment, not the outdoor environment - the built environment," Hughes said. "These students are more sensitive to lighting and VOCs (volatile organic compounds)."

    VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids like paints, building materials, furnishings, glues and adhesives.

    Natural lighting rather than fluorescent and higher frequency of air circulation are just two of the features of this new school building. Some of the design elements at Wolfe School include using linoleum rather than tile. Linoleum is made with linseed oil and other natural elements and does not require glues when placed.

    The school also uses ground-source heat pumps fed by 20 geothermal wells that are about 300 feet deep. The refrigerant from the heat pumps, which is in tubes, runs into the ground and is stabilized without the need for electricity or gas, saving energy.

    "The green building movement offers an unprecedented opportunity to respond to the most-important challenges of our time, including global climate change, dependence on non-sustainable and expensive sources of energy and threats to human health," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council.  "The work of innovative building projects such as Wolfe School is a fundamental driving force in the green building movement."

    New Town, Rocky River, Stallings and Poplin Elementary were the first UCPS elementary schools to work toward the green and sustainable design, but did not seek the LEED certification due to cost.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: Jul 01, 2009 by Don Mace

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