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Kingswood project includes several energy-saving features

Buildings and fields will also have less impact on the environment

November 19, 2009
WOLFEBORO — Groundbreaking for the Kingswood complex renovation and expansion project is fast approaching. The bids have been opened for Phase 1 and the process of selecting a general contractor has begun.

In light of these recent developments, it's time to check out the ways in which the district is trying to approach the project in an environmentally friendly manor, a current day concern for many large projects.

Phase One of the Kingswood renovation and expansion project, the new multipurpose building and playing fields, incorporates several large-scale techniques in which the district will, over time, conserve energy, reuse resources, and save economically.

Superintendent Jack Robertson explains that beyond creating facilities that are safe, comfortable and functional for the students and staff, the school district has the goals of being economically and environmentally friendly.

"As a school district, we have the responsibility of modeling the lessons that we provide to children. What lesson could be more important to our students than the importance of preserving and prudently using the resources to which we have access?" he asks.

The proposed plans make use of resources in a manner friendly to the environment, while maintaining respect to its neighbors, considering their needs for both resources and a healthy environment as well.

Chip Krause of CMK Architects, the firm employed by the district to design the project, says "The direction from the building committee has always been to design an energy efficient building."

Krause explains that while the "green movement" has increasingly influenced the design industry, Governor Wentworth Regional School District is taking an additional step by adhering to the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance School Protocol (NE-CHPS) standards. NE-CHPS, he explains, is not just about saving energy. It provides high standards in acoustics, air quality, natural daylight and building envelope. These initiatives, Krause says, provide not just a better learning environment, but lower energy and maintenance costs. In qualifying for the CHPS program, cost to local taxpayers is also reduced.

The most obvious and expansive way in which the district intends to make more efficient use of its resources is by installing a geothermal system.

Robertson says that the use of geothermal energy for heating and cooling will benefit not just benefit the district, but multiple parties.

"Our existing electrical heating system often places demands on the local power company during periods of cold weather. Utilizing a system that does not require as much use of non-renewable energy not only reduces the operation cost of the school district, but it also assists the power company in providing uninterrupted services to all of its customers. From both an environmental and financial viewpoint, using less fossil fuel benefits all of the citizens residing in our district."

The geothermal system consists of a well field of 300-400-foot deep bore holes, where water will recirculate continually through piping in a closed loop system underground. The system, Krause explains, takes advantage of the ground's consistent temperature and does not take water out of the ground.

Chair of the Building Committee Ernie Brown explains that though the geothermal system is expensive to install initially, it has a relatively quick return on the investment. According to current costs it will only take seven to eight years to payback, after which the school and taxpayers will benefit from the system's lower operating cost.

"With the geothermal system, we will have low cost heat and air conditioning. It is our hope that this will result in an improved academic environment," Brown says.

In addition to the geothermal system, sunshades will be installed on the exterior of the buildings to reduce sun heat load in the summer and light shelves on the interior walls will displace natural light from the windows.

A second major component of the district's plan to save both resources and money is the collection of rainwater falling on the roof of the complex. Through a system of internal drains and an underground storage tank, the collection will help alleviate some of the runoff onto abutting properties as well as lessen the burden of the town's public water system, says Robertson. The collected water will be used for flushing toilets within the complex as well as for irrigating the athletic fields. In addition, according to Krause, the plumbing fixtures throughout the facilities will also be low-flush models with automatic sensors (for both flushing and turning off faucets) that only require one pint rather than one gallon of water to use.

The use of pervious pavement throughout the site is yet another way runoff will be minimized, a financial benefit for the district that also allows the town to better mange its resources, including nearby lakes.

Another significant measure to be taken will be the use of energy efficient lighting and maximization of natural light. A system will be installed that senses natural daylight levels and shuts lights off when appropriate, saving the district electricity. Occupancy sensors will also be installed and all external lighting will be LED or light-emitting diodes, which use far less electricity compared to normal lights.

By increasing the insulation thickness, specifying low E insulating glass be used, and other similar measures, Krause says the thermal characteristics of the building have also been greatly improved.

Floors will also be stained and polished concrete, eliminating the need for chemicals associated with stripping and waxing floors.

Robertson and Brown also describe the installation of an artificial turf as beneficial to the district. The current athletic fields are so overused, according to Robertson, that they not only exacerbate the water runoff problem, but they cannot be properly corrected without negatively impacting surrounding bodies of water.

"With an artificial turf field, we can get maximum school and community use of the facilities while dramatically reducing the area of mud and related runoff," explains Robertson.

Brown agrees that while the costs of a turf field are comparable to the maintenance a sod field requires, there are two major benefits. In addition to the increased availability of the field, the turf field will not require chemical fertilization, thus further reducing the fields' environmental impact.

Though some of these improvements initially increase the overall cost of the project, the budget approved by voters last March has not been altered.

"All of these features significantly contribute to providing safe, comfortable and functional accommodations for children while reducing the operating costs paid by our citizens," Robertson says, adding "In my opinion, the most important aspect of including a 'green system' approach in this project is the fact that it gives us the opportunity to provide a real life lesson of what it means to be a caring and responsible citizen in this great nation."

In addition to all of the green efforts embodied in the building project, the district continues to encourage and bring awareness to ways in which each individual can make a difference by organizing recycling programs, holding essay and poster contests and eliminating unnecessary electric devices, like microwaves, from classrooms.

In summary, Krause comments, "The voters should be commended for approving a project that incorporates this level of energy efficiency, particularly in this economy."

Heather Terragni can be reached at 569-3126 or hterragni@salmonpress.com

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Town of Alexandria
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