Top 10 States 2015: Douglas Elementary School
The 2015 Top 10 States list honors transformative efforts at the state level to create healthier, more energy- and water-efficient places to live, learn, work and play. In 2015 alone, 1,633 projects were certified in the United States—equivalent to an incredible 275 million square feet.
In this series, we spotlight the standout LEED-certified projects that contributed to the 2015 Top 10 rankings. Join us in celebrating some of the best examples of green building design, construction and operation.
Douglas Elementary School
The new Douglas Elementary School is an 83,095-square-foot facility, located in Douglas, Mass. It was completed in 2014 and certified LEED Silver for Schools in December 2015.
The original Douglas Intermediate/Elementary School (grades 2–7) was constructed in 1986 as the town’s middle/high school. In its later years, the school experienced overcrowding, with 12 portable classrooms that were 15 years old, five lunch periods and insufficient classrooms. The building itself stood in fair to good condition, with the exception of the building systems, which were at the end of their useful life.
A study was conducted to assess the current and projected overcrowding issues at all three of the town’s schools, and to determine the most fiscally responsible long-term solution for the educational needs of Douglas Public Schools. It was determined that the best solution would be to construct a new elementary school (grades 2–5), and modernize the existing intermediate school to repurpose it as a middle school (grades 6–8).
With this approach, students were placed in the appropriate facilities while minimizing disruption to students, staff and site during construction. It also allowed the new facility to be constructed while the students remained in the existing intermediate school. Upon completion of the new elementary school, the students were relocated to the new school and modernization work at the intermediate school began.
The new elementary school consists of general education classrooms, special education spaces, music and art rooms, a cafeteria and a gymnasium, as well as administrative spaces. The size configuration of the available site, its topography and adjacent wetlands posed a challenge to optimizing the orientation of the new school.
Maximizing north/south orientation of the classrooms was an important objective, as this would afford the most usable and controllable natural daylighting for these spaces. Daylighting is beneficial to a building’s indoor environmental quality, and through the use of controls such as the classroom lighting system, it realizes significant electrical energy savings. In addition, water-efficient landscaping, parking capacity and preservation of open space are a few of the reasons why the project scored well on the LEED Scorecard.
Massachusetts showed the greatest improvement in rank, jumping to No. 3 in 2015 from No. 5 in 2014. Overall, the state had 112 projects achieve LEED certification in 2015, equal to a little more than three square feet of LEED-certified space per resident. Massachusetts is one of four states that have made the Top 10 list every year since 2011, and it’s no wonder—Boston alone boasts more than 10 million square feet of LEED-certified space, the seventh-most of any U.S. state.
Between 2015 and 2018, green building is projected to add $21.91 billion to Massachusetts’ GDP, as well as 257,000 jobs and $14.68 billion in labor earnings, according to USGBC’s Green Economic Impact Study, conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton. The study also expects that LEED alone will account for $13.6 billion of the state’s GDP growth; add 155,000 jobs and $9.12 billion in labor earnings, as well as $278.5 million in tax revenue.
Other notable projects in Massachusetts include Boston’s LEED Gold One Financial Center, and the LEED Gold Springfield Data Center, which supports more then 170 agencies and public authorities and is the Commonwealth’s primary information technology disaster recovery site.