NORTH ADAMS -- The city’s School Building Committee voted Monday night to have the rehabilitation work on the former Silvio O. Conte Middle School be done to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards.
Under a new requirement of the state School Building Authority’s Green Buildings Program, the school’s design must be certified either LEED Silver or Massachusetts Collaborative for High Performance Schools (MA-CHPS) Verified Leader.
Owner’s Project Manager Carl Weber, of Strategic Building Solutions, explained that either program would be achievable and the cost of applying to either program was "negligible."
"Of the last 10 projects like this that you’ve done, which direction have they gone?" City Councilor Keith Bona, a committee member, asked.
Weber said he had not had any project move forward with the MA-CHPS certification yet.
"It’s a new requirement," he said. "I think people are more familiar with the LEED program and I think there’s a desire for their familiarity with it."
Architect Kristian Whitsett, of Margo Jones Architects, the city’s firm for the building project, said his experience is that "more go toward the LEED certification" because of a larger number of people understand the program’s aim for energy efficiency and sustainable building practices.
North Adams Public Schools Business Manager Nancy
"Can we decide on which program to go with tonight and then decide what level of certification we’ll go with at a later date?" she asked.
Weber and Whitsett said that a program, but not a certification level, was required at this time so the architectural team could plan to meet certain specifications and begin the application process.
Mayor Richard J. Alcombright, committee chairman, said he believed more people would be familiar with the LEED program than the MA-CHPS program.
"Let the chips fall where they may. At the end of the day, we’re still going to have the same building," he said.
Bona made a motion to move forward with the LEED certification process.
"When we picked our architects and engineers, we picked them because of their familiarity with this program," he said. "I’d rather have them go with a program they know and let them deal with other bumps in the road."
The committee voted unanimously to move forward with LEED certification.
In other action, the committee had an in-depth discussion on the location of parking at the school and the location of several playgrounds.
Julie Sniezek, of Guntlow Associates, explained that the committee’s working group had decided it would be beneficial to remove the monolithic concrete stairs leading up to the school from Colgrove Park and regrade part of the area, midway up the slope, to create a playground.
Several members expressed concern about the flow of traffic at drop-off and pick-up times at the school. Sniezek agreed to return with several options for playgrounds and parking.
Weber also informed the group that it would need to decide at its next meeting whether it wanted to bring a contractor on board as part of the planning process or wait until the project was ready to go out to bid.
The next full meeting of the School Building Committee will be Monday, Aug. 27, at 6 p.m., in the lower level of the former middle school. It’s working group will meet with teachers and continue to go over schematic designs on Monday, Aug. 7, at 1 p.m., in the school’s lower level.
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