Lucy School is located on a 17-acre farm in Frederick County near Middletown, MD just 20 minutes from both Downtown Frederick and eastern Hagerstown. The grounds feature a pond, woods, meadows, and wetlands. Lucy School is also home to a "child-friendly" waterfall, nature/learning trail, and an organic garden cared for by the children.
LUCY SCHOOL RECEIVES PLATINUM LEED CERTIFICATION
The US Green Building Council has certified Lucy School’s primary building as a LEED for Schools Platinum building, the first such designation for a school in the State of Maryland. Platinum is the highest level that can be awarded for leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED), a third-party certification program that is the internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED for Schools takes into account specific attributes of school spaces through a more elaborate and demanding certification process with additional rigorous standards in air quality, day lighting, occupant health, and acoustics. While Platinum certification requires a minimum of 58 awarded points, the Lucy School submission included 69 points of which the USGBC accepted 68, demonstrating the building’s outstanding performance in a broad range of areas.
“The decision to design and construct a green building is consistent with our commitment to give our students the very best, not only in academics and teaching, but in the environment and spaces where they spend their day - an environment that is healthy and safe, that invites exploration and stimulates learning” said Dr. Victoria Brown, School Director. “It was a challenging undertaking that would not have been completed without our school community’s encouragement and support, and the many contributions from our architect, contractors and suppliers.”
In order to achieve the Platinum certification, the school met high performance standards in a broad range of areas: a solar array generates more than 40% of electricity for the building (for lighting, the geothermal heating/cooling system, etc.) with the balance being wind-generated. Captured rainwater is used for dual-flush toilets (urinals are waterless). Temperature and CO2 sensors maintain optimal conditions in classrooms where daylight bathes every corner. About 84% of the wood used in the construction of the building was reused (57%), recycled, or FSC-certified. Rapidly renewable materials, such as cork, bamboo and wheat board, have been used throughout, and recycled material (newspaper, denim and cotton) were used for thermal and acoustical insulation. All concrete (foundation, lower level walls and driveway) contains about 50% recycled waste products. More than 86% of construction waste was diverted from the landfill through recycling and reuse.
For a school, however, the most important performance standards are in health and safety for its occupants. A high standard in air quality was met by eliminating off-gassing sources that are particularly prevalent in new construction. Mineral paints that contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were used, and sealants and adhesives were selected that have very low or no VOC content. Acoustical insulation and other controls eliminate out-of-classroom distractions, while large windows and tube-directed light reach every corner (studying by daylight has been shown to contribute to longer attention and to enhance learning).
THE BIG RED BARN
A 19th century barn has been renovated into a “state of the art” facility with early learning spaces influenced by the Milan School of Design/Reggio Emilia (an internationally known visual arts preschool in Italy) for the preschool programs. Through carefully designed use of natural light and warm colors and attention to flexible spaces and cozy corners, children are provided with a living-learning environment that is homey-comfortable and at the same time inspires curiosity and love for play, imagination and learning. We have also consulted with nationally recognized experts in the early childhood field in developing our outdoor play/learning spaces.
LUCY SCHOOL'S NEW GREEN CLASSROOM BUILDING - CONSTRUCTION HISTORY
On March 23, 2009, Lucy School received an occupancy permit for its new state-of-the-art “green” classroom building! Designed to house its primary, art and music programs, the new building is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for certification under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, an independent, third-party verification that it meets the highest green building and performance measures and it is a healthy place to live and work. An environment that is healthy and conducive to learning was a basic requirement in the design and construction of the school’s new classroom building.
The construction of the new building was a unique learning experience for all involved. The building is a wonderful source of learning, hands-on education that the children experience and participate in every day. The project has informed our curriculum, with the children following along from the early excavation (exploring soils and rocks) to the various stages of construction. Flushing a toilet, washing hands or sorting waste in recycling bins are daily experiences that reinforce green principles. Most importantly, this building complements beautifully our environmental and outdoor education curriculum that promotes a love of nature and environmental stewardship.
Reduce, reuse and recycle are the three Rs of green professionals. This attention to green basics is reflected throughout the building: Sensor-controlled sinks, dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals have reduced dramatically water use; rainwater is collected in a cistern and used to flush toilets; LED lights and sensor-controlled fixtures minimize the need for electrical power; sixty solar panels generate sufficient power to reduce the building’s electricity use by 15-20%; a geothermal heating/cooling system drastically reduces the demand for power; gray water from sinks, water fountains and washer is used to water plants; rain and storm water are collected in eight rain gardens and filtered through to the water table.
The most prominent feature of the building is the glass doors and windows that allow daylight to flood each room and corridor. More light is brought into the classrooms and meeting spaces by a series of “solatubes” that collect sunlight and direct it into areas away from windows. Daylight is a wonderful natural stimulant for the brain, helping to keep it alert and focused, thus enhancing learning. At the same time, air monitors activate fans to introduce fresh outside air whenever classroom carbon dioxide levels exceed acceptable levels.
Indeed, the building passed stringent air quality tests and it has systems in place to monitor and control the presence of unhealthy conditions. A few years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that “one-half of our nation’s 115,000 schools have problems linked to indoor air quality. Students, teachers and staff are at great risk because of the hours spent in school facilities and because children are especially susceptible to pollutants.” Construction material, coverings (from carpet to paint), glues and sealants, insulation, inadequate ventilation and cleaning fluids, all contribute greatly to the degradation of indoor air quality.
To reduce the possibility of off-gassing from construction materials USGBC guidelines were used to select material, including sealants and coverings. Insulation is made from recycled paper and denim. Mineral paints were used, with no volatile compounds present. Even magic markers used in the classrooms are water-based without the toxic chemicals found in traditional writing material. We also use cleaning fluids that are made of natural ingredients; we found that they work quite well without the side-effects of the strong chemicals that are typically present in more common products.
Wood obtained from a warehouse that was demolished provided the timbers, decking and trim for the building. Most of the remaining wood is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. Floors are primarily cork and bamboo, both rapidly renewable resources. Cabinets are also made of bamboo and wheat board. All concrete for the project (from the foundation to the pavement) contains about 50% slag or fly ash. More than 80% of construction waste has been diverted from the landfill through reuse and recycling: drywall has been ground up or mixed with manure and spread over a local farm; cement-board siding as been used as fill; wood, wiring and metal cast-offs are being used for art projects; and pipe was used to build musical instruments.
Our intent was to create a nurturing environment for creativity and learning. Lucy School's arts-based curriculum is a fundamental component, but its impact is greatly enhanced in a setting that is healthy and promotes curiosity and confidence. Lucy School students do very well academically, but they are also learning to care for themselves, their neighbors, and the earth.