Weston, Mass., May 16, 2008 - The Cambridge School of Weston (CSW) announced today that its Garthwaite Center for Science and Art has been chosen by The American Institute of Architects' Committee on the Environment (COTE) as one of the nation's Top Ten Green Projects of the year. Every year, the committee selects the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. This year's top projects, only two of which reside in Massachusetts, were honored on May 15, at the AIA 2008 National Convention and Design Exposition at Boston's Artists for Humanity EpiCenter in Boston.
"These projects were judged against a rigorous set of criteria to determine the best examples of sustainable design concepts and intentions," said Henry Siegel, FAIA, chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment. "In addition to examining their architectural innovation, the buildings had to have shown design elements within their regional/community context, land use and site ecology that benefits surrounding ecosystems, resource conservation through bioclimatic design and the health benefits associated with improved lighting and indoor air quality."
The 21,000 sq. ft. educational facility, which opened its doors in September of 2007, houses science laboratories, classrooms and community galleries, as well as administrative and faculty offices. The state-of-the-art facility was designed to LEED Platinum standards by Architerra Inc. of Boston, and built by Consigli Construction Co., Inc. of Milford, Mass. Situated on the school's main campus quadrangle, the entire building contains exposed architectural grade timber framing and flooring as well as exposed mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sprinkler equipment, which serve as educational tools that provide instruction on what are usually hidden building systems. A two-story science atrium incorporates a mini wetlands area. The building is also home to three new galleries: two are dedicated to student art and a third for contemporary art exhibitions.
In order to reduce its carbon footprint as well as its impact on the local environment, the Garthwaite Center uses 60 percent less fossil fuel than traditional school buildings and only ten gallons of water per day.
A key ingredient of the Garthwaite Center is its environmentally friendly design. The building itself is positioned to maximize passive solar heating and day lighting, while deep roof overhangs and a high-performance building envelope help to reduce heat loss and unwanted solar gains. To supplement the passive solar design, a high performance heating and ventilation system was installed that features in-floor radiant heat, an efficient wood pellet boiler that burns waste wood fiber and an enthalpy heat recovery wheel that captures and recycles up to 87 percent of the heat that would otherwise be lost.
In addition, the building features a living green roof which is visible through the building's many triple-glazed fiberglass windows. Composting toilets, waterless urinals and low-flow faucets with electronic sensors help reduce water consumption to ten gallons per day, all of which – along with storm water runoff – are captured in underground chambers that slowly return it to the aquifer.
Floors inside the structure have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, and the building's site retains re-used blasted ledge that was recycled to create stairs and retaining walls.
The center houses a number of classes specifically designed to teach sustainability, for example: "From Atoms to Ecosystems" a ninth grade science class that tackles the complexities of global warming.
"Students have been involved in thinking about the building design from its inception. They debated the best forms of renewable energy for the building, have monitored energy usage on campus and have surveyed the community about energy issues. Now that we are actually in the building, we will be tracking its systems and see if it is living up to its potential regarding energy and water use. We are also monitoring atrium light levels to compare with the daylight monitoring by the architects," said Marilyn DelDonno, CSW science chair and recipient of a 2006 Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence. "Our hope is to reach out into the community and bring other schools on campus to learn about sustainability via the building."
"Our new center offers an exciting array of environmentally friendly features, but we are particularly proud of the building's value as a major teaching tool," said Jane Moulding, head of school. "The center is really an extension of the dynamic learning that takes place in the building each day, and is emblematic of our faculty whose imaginative teaching remains at the heart of the CSW experience."
The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.