The LEED system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a building qualification system generated by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) that is acknowledged as the system of greatest acceptance and implementation worldwide. The LEED system, in its evolution to the current version (LEED v4), provides mandatory guidelines (prerequisites) and strengthening of those in so-called credits that are those granted through different scores and achievement of certification levels (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum).
The buildings with the highest standards in terms of the system are Schools, Hospitals and Call Centers, because the spaces inside must ensure optimal conditions for the performance of specific activities and the permanent users in this type of buildings.
Considering the approaches proposed by the Rochester School to be a “Green School and the LEED for School v 2009 system for K-12-type educational establishments, the “evaluation and integration of sustainability strategies was layed out to comply with all of the prerequisites of the LEED system and strengthening them to achieve Gold Certification.
The milestones for
each strategy are summarized below:
Hydraulic system:A system was integrated from urban planning that controls runoff preventing impacts against the school in the event of torrential rain. The hydraulic system was conceived in 2 lines of action: The first, and considering the LEED baseline for annual consumption, with the installation of watersaving devices for sanitary purposes, showers and sinks in order to reduce the school’s water footprint. The second, the implementation of a Wastewater Treatment Plant to Tertiary Standards (Serial Batch Reactor) allowing all wastewater generated in the daily operations to be treated and reused for sanitary discharges and landscaping, in compliance with Colombian environmental regulations required for no waste discharge from schools.
Solar system: The strategy was integrated in 2 directions: The first in the heating system of the swimming pools and showers in the Aquatic Center with the installation of solar collectors in the roofs over the reception and Auditorium areas. The second was implemented with a photovoltaic array on the roofs of blocks 4 and 5 generating 20Kw for immediate consumption on the internal network.
Lighting: The assessment of maximum use of daylight was established based on national regulations and ASHRAE (90.1-2007) requirements set by the LEED system, integrating a design with LED lights integrated with a 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. Exterior lighting requirements considered no generation of light pollution to the environment.
Acoustics: One of the major demands of the LEED system refers to the prerequisite of the acoustic quality of the learning areas, so that the impact from outside noise is minimized with optimal acoustic conditions inside, allowing for better attention and learning for teachers and students. The strategy was established from the architecture, with modeling, measurement and generation of solutions that enable optimum 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 CO2 levels required by LEED for educational establishments 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, NO smoking is 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 througout the operation with the definition of a specific area for recyclable waste and the generation of a comprehensive policy for managment of organic and recyclable waste. Organic wastes are degraded by composting which is used for the school garden and landscaping maintenance of the entire school. Recyclable wastes, are classified and quantified in the recycling area in order to assess the proper policy designed and subsequent disposal thereof.
Landscaping: Integrated landscape design based on Choice Theory and the exclusive use of native species. In this manner, landscaping and all green areas and school commons allow not only the educational strengthening of the Rochester community and visitors, but also ensure a high degree of native biodiversity and minimum water consumption for maintenance.
Construction materials: Construction materials were assessed and integrated from the design, initially considering technical specifications that will ensure thermal comfort within the spaces. Just as the finishing materials will 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” and would comply with the GreenGuard requirements specified by the LEED system for Schools. The 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.
Physical Plant as an Educational Tool: Notably, the school’s Social and Environmental Responsibility policy because it is an educational tool for the general community. The teaching faculty of the Rochester School generated the integration of curricular projects using all of the physical plant and its operation as an educational tool allowing the physical plant to be a living text for the Rochester Community. Similarly, all of the construction process and the physical plant in operation were and are an educational tool for groups of undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of universities and educational programs.
Zayed Future Energy Prize (www.zayedfutureenergyprize.com) is an award granted by the government of the United Arabe Emirates to initiatives in regard to sustainability issues with emphasis on renewable energy. The visit of Dr. Al-Hosani, Director of the Awards to the 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 the 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. Similarly, Juan Pablo Aljure, Rector of the School made a presentation on curriculum projections. Throughout the visit, Dr. Al-Hosani greeted and congratulated parents and students who were there and congratulated the entire team who work for the School on sustainability issues.
Last Tuesday June 10, the ASHRAE-Colombia Chapter, in the framework of its technical conference was visiting the school’s facilities in the company of Ronald E. Jarnagin, the engineer who chaired the technical chapter of ASHRAE 90.1 unitl 2012, the energy efficiency technical standard under which LEED certification is addressed. Mr. Jarnagin had the opportunity not only to congratulate the School for winning the Gold level, the integration of sustainability strategies considered, but also shared with recently graduated students, future Mechanical Engineers, a few tips in their professional projection and sustainability. We thank the ASHRAE-Colombia Chapter for considering the Rochester School a project worth visiting by national and international bodies.
Rochester School hosted a visit by officials from government and investment agencies from Latin America and the Caribbean within the framework of this event, with accompaniment of Hybrytec Solar, presenting our institution as a success case in the implementation of alternative energy and sustainability strategies.