D.C. School Design Offers Sustainable Lessons


Philadelphia, PA -- March 19, 2007 -- The Sidwell Friends Middle School in Washington, D.C., has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum rating, the highest level of certification attainable, from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The school is the first K-12 school to achieve Platinum certification. There are currently 33 LEED Platinum-certified buildings worldwide.

Designed by Philadelphia-based architecture firm KieranTimberlake Associates, the building and landscape support the school's curriculum with a facility that demonstrates an ethical relationship between the natural and the built environment. From the outset, the School desired a high-performance building to use as a lens through which students witness natural and mechanical systems at work in unison with each other.

"The client's commitment to sustainability was never a question," comments Stephen Kieran, design partner for the project. "This enabled us to create a new aesthetic formed around the restoration and enrichment of the natural environment."

Fifty-seven LEED points were awarded to the building. Sustainable initiatives include a constructed wetland, which treats and recycles wastewater for gray water use in the building, resulting in a 94-percent reduction of municipal water use. The wetland is the first of its type in Washington, D.C. In addition, the wetland and green roof function as a programmatic component of the science curriculum. The middle school houses a central energy plant which serves other campus buildings, saving energy, operating costs and space. Energy use is further reduced by exterior sunscreens designed to balance thermal performance with optimum day lighting, and solar chimneys to enhance passive ventilation. Five percent of the overall building's electrical demand is generated by photovoltaic panels. Reclaimed, rapidly renewable and regionally manufactured materials used in construction include exterior cladding from cedar fermentation barrels, greenheart flooring and decking from pilings in the Baltimore Harbor.

"This is absolutely intended to be a paradigm shifting facility," says Head of School Bruce Stewart.  "Sidwell Friends School hopes and believes that this will change the way children are educated across the nation and around the world."

To determine if the extensive environmental design initiatives have a verifiable impact on the performance and health of the school population, students and faculty are participating in an ambitious study led by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science.

Yale Professor Stephen Kellert explains that the study will "explore the hypothesis that children who have greater contact with nature in the school environment show superior physical, emotional, and intellectual performance and well-being.  We will also examine if a building with better environmental systems and the experience of nature results in enhanced health, morale, and motivation among faculty, staff, and students."

Founded in 1984, KieranTimberlake Associates LLP. is an award-winning and internationally published architecture firm noted for its research, innovation, and inventive design. Current commissions include projects for Yale University, Cornell University, the University of Calgary, and an off-site fabricated housing product for Living Homes. 


For more information please contact Carin Whitney, publicity coordinator, KieranTimberlake Assocs. LLP.