Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Glenarden Woods Elementary School recently earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). This achievement follows a major 74,622-square-foot renovation and 40,110-square-foot addition completed in May 2017.
The project incorporated energy efficiency strategies in the envelope design; efficient systems and equipment; and the introduction of daylight throughout the core learning spaces. Tubular daylighting devices illuminate 92% of classroom and core learning spaces. Compared to standard code-compliant fixtures, water-conserving plumbing fixtures save 48% more potable water, equal to approximately 268,140 gallons per year. As a result of the building’s many energy conservation strategies, projections estimate a total annual savings of more than $10,000.
Waste reduction and recycling efforts began in the project’s planning phase and continue to the present day. A rigorous construction waste management plan diverted 96% of construction and demolition debris to recycling centers rather than to local landfills. Sustainability has been incorporated in the school’s day-to-day operations and curricula. In addition to assigning students to assist in the school’s recycling and green cleaning programs, all grades’ curricula include plans for hands-on lessons about composting, gardening, and wildlife.
A dashboard screen serves as an interactive teach tool that allows students to view how energy is used throughout the building, explore usage patterns and identify anomalies. Data from the building’s utilities are metered and sub-metered so students can understand how electricity, natural gas and water are used in minutes, months and years. “Our dynamic building adds to the teaching and learning environment at Glenarden Woods Elementary School. … Our students are eager to understand how our building uses energy to heat, light and cool their school. The students want to know how the engineers creatively used natural lighting in our building. They marvel at the fact that sometimes our school is heated and/or cooled by just using the air from outside,” stated Principal C.E. Jones-Bowlding.
A post-occupancy survey among faculty and staff attested to the success of the project. Among the 76% who responded, 100% were satisfied with the building overall, office layouts, furnishings, plumbing and air quality. Ninety-two percent were satisfied with the thermal comfort, electric lighting, access to daylighting and controllability of daylighting.
“I’m so proud of this design team’s ability to integrate so many high performance features into this beautiful building in a way that the building itself is becoming part of the students’ every day learning. I hope the students of Glenarden Woods Elementary are inspired to their fullest potential during their time at this school,” said Bryna Dunn, director of sustainability planning and design at Moseley Architects.
The project’s success hinged on the collaboration of the faculty, staff and design team. Principal C. E. Jones-Bowlding reflected on how she and the school benefited from active participation in the planning process. “It was an honor to sit with the architects from Moseley who permitted me as principal to be a member of the planning committee. This process made me accountable to first ensuring that the staff and students embraced the importance of being committed to the sustainability curriculum and the full implementation of the program,” said Jones-Bowlding. “The process was also life changing for me in that I made changes in my home to support a better usage of energy,” she added.
S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recognized Glenarden Woods Elementary School with the National Blue Ribbon for overall academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. It was one of only eight schools in Maryland to receive this award in 2019.