School Building Teaches Sustainability

A new school building project raises admissions inquiries by 30 percent

In a year that has seen admissions to private schools decline, Millbrook School in Duchess County, NY, has seen admissions inquiries increase by 30 percent since its new building project began.

Sustainability in building construction is important to Millbrook administrators, but even more critical to the school’s core beliefs is teaching students to be environmental stewards. In a building with transparent systems, simply walking to class becomes a teachable moment. The message and methodologies of science teachers are much more powerful when students are surrounded by the evidence in bricks and mortar.

Administrators worked closely with Daniela Holt Voith of Voith & Mactavish Architects to design a building that celebrates sustainability while fitting into the traditional Georgian campus. Gauges monitoring energy efficiency are located throughout the building, a solar hot water system and an array of photovoltaic cells for generating electricity help teach about the power of the sun, and a display at the main entry tells how much power is being generated, among other tools. 

The building has achieved LEED Gold – the only secondary school building in New York, and one of only five higher-ed buildings in the state.