The LEED system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a building certification system created by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council), which is acknowledged as the one of greatest acceptance and implementation worldwide. The LEED system, in its evolution to the current version (LEED v4), provides mandatory guidelines (prerequisites) and strengthens the so-called credits granted through scores of achievement for the different certification levels they have (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum).
The buildings with the highest standards in terms of the system are Schools, Hospitals and Call Centers because the indoor spaces must ensure optimal conditions for the performance of specific activities, and the permanent users in this type of buildings.
Considering the objectives proposed by Rochester School to be a ‘Green School’, and the LEED for Schools v 2009 system for K-12-type of educational constructions, our evaluation and integration of sustainability strategies was laid out to comply with all of the prerequisites for the LEED system and we strengthened them, so we could achieve Gold Certification.
The milestones for
each strategy are summarized below:
Hydraulic system: From the urban planning, we integrated a system that controls runoffs, preventing possible impact against the school in the event of torrential rain. The hydraulic system was conceived in 2 lines of action: The first one, and considering the LEED baseline for annual consumption, with the installation of water-saving devices for sanitary purposes, showers and sinks in order to reduce the school’s water footprint. The second one, the implementation of a Wastewater Treatment Plant for Tertiary Standards (Serial Batch Reactor) allowing all wastewater generated in the daily operations to be treated and reused for sanitary flushing and landscaping, in compliance with Colombian environmental regulations requiring no waste discharging from schools.
Solar system: This strategy was integrated in 2 directions: The first one in the heating system for the swimming pools and showers in the Aquatic Center, with the installation of solar collectors on the flat roofs over the reception and Auditeria areas. The second one was implemented with a photovoltaic array on the flat roofs of blocks 4 and 5 generating 20Kw for immediate consumption through the internal network.
Lighting: The evaluation of maximum use of daylight was done based on national regulations and the ASHRAE (90.1-2007) requirements set by the LEED system, integrating a design with LED lights integrated with occupancy and daylight sensors, allowing not only low consumption from lighting, but also with appropriate lighting environments for academic and administrative activities. Similarly, the assessment performed considered types of finishes, such as radiating surfaces, in order to set the parameters for this strategy. Outdoor lighting requirements considered no generation of light pollution to the environment.
Acoustics: One of the most demanding requirements of the LEED system refers to the prerequisite of acoustic quality in the learning areas. This is important to lower the impact from outside noise, and guarantee optimal acoustic conditions inside, allowing better attention and learning for teachers and students. The strategy was established from the original design, with models, measurements and generation of solutions that enable optimal acoustic characteristics for learning.
Air Quality: Bioclimatic modeling was performed for all areas considering the architectural design and the integrity of its components in order to validate the requirements of ASHRAE standards (62.1-2007) concerning parameters for comfort and air exchange rates. The analysis performed allowed establishing a mixed ventilation strategy designed and integrated to CO2, temperature and relative humidity sensors, which automatically inject air into classrooms, thereby ensuring the low CO2 levels required by LEED for educational constructions and comfort parameters based on external weather conditions. Similarly, and in compliance not only with Colombian law, but also with the specific LEED prerequisite, inside and in a 10m area surrounding the school, smoking is NOT allowed.
Waste management: The comprehensive strategy required by the LEED system was addressed in 2 lines: The first, the comprehensive management and proper disposal of 94% of the waste generated during construction and, the second one, permanent in character throughout the operation with the definition of a specific area for recyclable waste and the generation of a comprehensive policy for management of organic and recyclable waste. Organic waste is degraded by composting, which is used for gardening and landscaping maintenance of the entire school. Recyclable waste is classified and quantified in the recycling area in order to assess the design of the proper policy, and the subsequent disposal thereof.
Landscaping: The integrated landscape was design based on Choice Theory and the exclusive use of native species. This way, landscaping and all green and common areas at school allow not only the educational strengthening of our community and visitors, but also ensure a high degree of native biodiversity and low water consumption for maintenance.
Construction materials: The construction materials were assessed and integrated from the original design, initially considering technical specifications that would ensure thermal comfort within the spaces. Just as the finishing materials would ensure acoustic conditions, high Albedo, low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (Low VOC), materials of a regional character, recycled content, the character of “rapid renewal material” in order to comply with the GreenGuard requirements specified by the LEED system for Schools. Rochester School and the Design Team validated the use of materials such as linoleum flooring (rapid renewal and Low VOC material), Low VOC paints, ceilings with high sound insulation, high Albedo roof finishes, regional materials and recycled content, among others.
Campus as an Educational Tool: Notably, the school’s Social and Environmental Responsibility policy is outstanding because it has been used as an educational tool for the general community. Rochester School faculty has generated the integration of different curricular projects by using all of the school premises and its operation as an educational tool, allowing the whole campus to be a living text for our Community. Similarly, all of the construction process and the campus in operation have been an educational tool for groups of undergraduate and graduate students from different universities and educational programs.
The Zayed Future Energy Prize (www.zayedfutureenergyprize.com) is an award granted by the government of the United Arabe Emirates to initiatives around sustainability issues with emphasis on renewable energy. The visit of Dr. Al-Hosani, Director of the Awards, to Rochester School is further encouragement regarding a challenge embodied by the entire Rochester Community in its commitment to education framed in sustainability. During her visit to the facilities, Dr. Al-Hosani and the manager of Business and Cultural Affairs of their Embassy, Mr. Abdelrahman Almaazmi, were accompanied by students Juliana Diaz Castillo and Ana Maria Zabala Gomez, School Environmental Committee presidents, who shared their views and explained the relevant issues. Likewise, Juan Pablo Aljure, president of the School Foundation made a presentation on curriculum projections. Throughout the visit, Dr. Al-Hosani greeted and congratulated parents and students who were there as well as the entire team who works for the School on sustainability issues.
Last Tuesday June 10, the ASHRAE-Colombia Chapter was visiting the school facilities as part of their Technical Congress in the company of Ronald E. Jarnagin, the engineer who chaired the technical chapter of ASHRAE 90.1 until 2012, the energy efficiency technical standard under which LEED certification is addressed. Mr. Jarnagin had the opportunity to not only congratulate the School for winning the Gold level and the integration of the sustainability strategies considered, but also shared with recently graduated students, future Mechanical Engineers, a few tips on their professional projection and sustainability. We thank the ASHRAE-Colombia Chapter for considering Rochester School as a project that is worth visiting by national and international bodies.
Rochester School hosted a visit from government officials and investment agencies from Latin America and the Caribbean within the framework of Proexport, with the company of Hybrytec Solar, presenting our institution as a successful case in the implementation of alternative energy and sustainability strategies.