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Kingwood project features will earn the district $1.8 million in payments

December 16, 2010
WOLFEBORO — With Phase One of the Governor Wentworth Regional School District's major construction plans for the Kingswood Complex complete, participating towns have much to celebrate. A grand opening is scheduled for today, Thursday, Dec. 16, featuring tours through the new Kingswood Arts Center for any one who would like to take a look at the new facility.

The 900-seat auditorium will certainly be a boon to the student body, as it can finally gather together at the same time in the same place, and to area arts organizations, who have just gained a new programming venue.

There are accommodations for Kingswood athletes as well as art and drama students and opportunities for technology students, too, as they learn to assist in operating the newly installed, sophisticated lighting and sound equipment.

There is another aspect to the entire project, and that is the school district's commitment to enhance the learning environment of students by building and maintaining a facility that is the best it can be in terms of energy efficiency and air and sound quality.

The project has been accumulating points in a program offered by the national, non-profit Collaborative for High Performing Schools (CHPS). The school system will get three per cent of the project cost back through the New Hampshire Department of Education, amounting, in the Governor Wentworth Regional School District's case, to around $1.8 million.

Superintendent Jack Robertson explained that payments will be spread out over 18-19 years, at a maximum of $100,000 a year, thereby helping to lower taxes.

He added that it's been easier to accumulate points for the new building because they've been able "to start from scratch," but he promises, "we'll get there."

So far the project has earned points for the geothermal heating and cooling system (expensive to install but certain to save in energy costs for many years); the water saving system, backed up with wells, which collects rain water to irrigate the fields and flush toilets; the recycling of 75 percent of construction materials, including the crushing of ledge into usable construction material on site and recycling of the rest; a lighting system that lowers and raises lumens as varying amounts of sun filters into classrooms and shuts down when a room is unoccupied; and the application of polished, sound absorbent concrete floors, maintained with water alone (no chemicals to purchase or float into the air) throughout the building.

Robertson says that staff involved in building operations received five, eight-hour days of training in November on how to use and maintain all systems, some of which are automated. Proper preventive maintenance procedures have to be in place in order to operate with optimum efficiency. Air filters in the air handling system, for instance, have to be monitored and changed as signaled by the system.

Civil engineer Julianne Cardinal, North Branch's construction manager for Phase One has been checking all construction and systems with a CHPS engineer, hired as a commissioning agent, to verify that all has been accomplished and operating as planned.

One might wonder how the decision was made to produce this top notch facility right on the cutting edge of green technology and a model for other school systems to emulate.

Robertson says that though voters turned down the last building proposal, they passed a warrant article giving the go ahead to a geothermal system.

Robertson says that the school board felt it would be hypocritical to be teaching students to reduce, reuse and recycle and not practice what is preached. It also felt it was the most responsible approach in terms of benefit to the community for many years to come.

The work continues as Phase Two, the renovation of the middle and high schools, commences. A CHPS engineer has scrutinized activity from the plan review level on, says Robertson, including roofing, mechanical systems, lighting and recycling. Logs are kept of all activity and checked as he visits throughout the year. "He will be done when the project is done," says Robertson.

The end is not quite in sight, but now is the time to celebrate the completion of the Kingswood Arts Center, an accomplishment of view to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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