LAKE MILLS — The Lake Mills School District has been awarded Platinum LEED certification for its renovated and expanded middle school. A total of 36,632 square feet of the school was renovated and it was also expanded a total of 59,865 square feet.
Miron Construction Co., Inc. made the announcement that was established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). The school earned 58 out of 80 possible points.
LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The LEED for Schools Green Building Rating System is the nation’s preeminent third party verification of the design and construction of high performance green schools.
By addressing the uniqueness of school spaces and issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, mold prevention and community space sharing, as well as other issues such as indoor air quality, that directly affect the health and well-being of children, LEED for schools provides a unique, comprehensive green design and construction tool that enhances the quality of the facility, focuses on water and energy reduction, and provides guidelines for measuring actual building performance.
Green schools cost less to operate, freeing up resources to truly improve the education of students. Their carefully planned acoustics and abundant daylight make it easier and more comfortable for students to learn. The clean indoor air cuts down on sick days and provides children with a head start for a healthy, prosperous future.
The innovative design also provides a wealth of hands-on learning opportunities.
“Lake Mills Middle School’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman, U.S. Green Building Council. “The green building movement offers an unprecedented opportunity to respond to the most important challenges of our time, including global climate change, dependence on nonsustainable and expensive sources of energy and threats to human health.”
He went onto explain that “buildings are a prime example of how human systems integrate with natural systems. The Lake Mills Middle School project efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come.”
Lake Mills Middle School achieved Platinum LEED certification for energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as for incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies, including the use of the facility as a teaching tool and integrating sustainability into the classroom curriculum.
By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for students and staff and the Lake Mills community.
Dean Sanders, Lake Mills’ district administrator said, “The new building is thought of very highly by everyone in the community. The students have taken a great deal of pride in understanding how sustainability was integrated into “their” building. They are keenly aware that it’s a healthy and safe learning environment because environmental responsibility has been infused into their classroom curriculum, and they use the school as a teaching tool. Teachers talk about how much quieter the building is, making it much easier to communicate with students. Many have commented on the significantly reduced respiratory illnesses and no longer need to take asthma or allergy medication. The school board is very proud to give the community, and future generations, a high-quality building that focuses on the health and safety of their children, minimizes annual operating and maintenance expenses, and reduces environmental impacts.”
Lake Mills Middle School’s high efficiency building envelope, energy efficient lighting and controls system, and geothermal heating and cooling system contributes to making the school 45 percent more efficient than a conventional school, yielding a total annual energy savings of $85,000.
Additional strategies that contribute to the overall energy efficiency include the addition of windows to increase natural daylighting and adding exterior sun shelves to reduce heat gain and glare.
“The team worked collaboratively to achieve the district’s goals, and by doing so surpassed the community’s goal of constructing a ‘sustainable’ facility by ultimately building a Platinum LEED school. They were also able to return nearly $700,000 back to taxpayers. Platinum certification is no easy task, especially in a renovation project,” said Theresa Lehman, director of sustainable services for Miron Construction, who served as the LEED project administrator for the project.
“By incorporating the LEED requirements into the design and construction of the facility, the quality of the school was significantly increased, the students and teachers are healthier and the taxpayers had nearly three-quarters of a million dollars returned to them. Teamwork pays off — it’s now Wisconsin’s No. 1 LEED certified school and ranks among the top 10 LEED certified schools in the world. I could not be more proud of the Lake Mills community and the project team,” Lehman said.
The ventilation system is filtered by MERV filtration, contributing to high indoor air quality and enhancing the health and well-being of the staff and students. Low-emitting materials also contribute to better air quality. Each classroom was acoustically modeled to provide the best opportunity for communication and connects the staff and students to the natural environment.
Over 27 percent of the materials have pre-consumer and post-consumer recycle content, and 63 percent of the materials were regionally harvested and manufactured. Over 68 percent of the wood purchased for the facility is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. By reusing and refurbishing existing classroom furniture, the district was able to save thousands of dollars, allowing them to incorporate other desired features, such as an underground stormwater retention system and window wells in the lower-level classrooms that originally had no natural daylight.
The existing site, located in the heart of Lake Mills, now serves as host to native vegetation and bioswales, which has created an outdoor classroom, providing hands-on teaching opportunities on biodiversity and ecology. Planting native vegetation and “low-mow” grasses eliminated the need for irrigation systems. To further increase water efficiency, low-flow plumbing fixtures were selected, resulting in a 42 percent decrease in water usage compared to a code-compliant school.
Throughout the construction process, Miron superintendent Jay Kuhlman implemented a construction indoor air quality plan and a construction waste management plan, which resulted in diverting 77 percent (595 tons) of waste from the landfill, thereby reintroducing the construction materials into the manufacturing process.
“The project drivers included teacher interaction, unique learning spaces, improved accessibility, connection to the neighborhood, cost efficiency, replacement of outdated and inefficient systems with high efficient systems, and integrating sustainable features. The design-build team’s goal was to create a unique space that would not only satisfy all of the drivers, but would also fulfill the Lake Mills School District’s mission, which is to provide an outstanding education that inspires students to be responsible citizens and lifelong learners in an ever-changing world and that is exactly what we gave them,” said Greg Douglas, vice president of design-build services for Miron Construction.