CHESHIRE - The energy-efficient design of the renovation of Hoosac Valley Middle and High School has garnered an LEED Gold certification -- and more than $800,000 for both Adams and Cheshire.
The school has been honored by the U.S. Green Building Council with its Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification - the second highest certification a building can achieve.
The project also won top honors for Margo Jones Architects and Tessier Associates, which received the 2012 Honor Award at the Western Massachusetts AIA Annual Design Awards Competition in December. The $40.6 million project was celebrated by the competition's judges for its "skillful re-use of existing materials, daylighting improvements and thoughtful detailing of interior spaces."
"When we began the project we were shooting for LEED Silver," said Brian Sutton, LEED AP and president of eCaerus Sustainable Solutions of Great Barrington, which served as the project's LEED consultant. "During the construction, we all kind of huddled on the side and decided to go that extra mile. Our company spent extra hours to make sure the project would reach the gold level."
To achieve LEED Gold certification, the project had to earn 60 credits, which are awarded for meeting certain sustainability and energy-efficiency benchmarks.
"So much time was spent on that in early design phase," he said. "We reused over 75 percent of the existing structure [built in 1971]. It's a great use of an existing building, as opposed to knocking it down and starting over."
One of the benefits of achieving LEED Gold certification, he said, is that the state School Building Authority (MSBA) reimburses 2 percent of total project costs for the achievement. For the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District, that totals $880,000, which will be split between the towns of Adams and Cheshire.
Some of the project's elements that helped achieve the certification include the 495 kWh photo voltaic solar array at the school, reduced energy consumption, regionally-sourced building materials, high-efficiency replacement windows and improved storm water management.
"What people can really appreciate about the site is that there is no light pollution -- it's a good thing for the neighbors and for the environment," Sutton said. "We reused the pool as a place to capture the rain water from the fields and are using it to flush the toilets. It's an excellent reuse of water and its reducing the impact on the fields and streams around the school."
He said the building is now performing at 40 percent less than code on energy consumption due to upgrades.
"The solar voltaic system is really impressive," Sutton added. "You can go online and see how much energy has been produced and the equivalent energy savings -- the comparative reduction in carbon dioxide emissions or the equivalent number of gallons of gas or smartphone changes."
According to the solar array's website, (http://www.solrenview.com/SolrenView/mainFr.php?siteId=1713), the array has produced 365 MWh since going online in December -- the equivalent of 32,237 gallons of gasoline or 67,54,170 smartphones being charged.
The building project team included eCaerus Sustainable Solutions, Margo Jones Architects, Tessier Associates, Hesnor Engineering Associates, Guntlow & Associates and Gilbane Inc.