LEED Gold Certification for Renovated Allentown Schools

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The US Green Building Council (USGBC) recently awarded the Clifford S. Bartholomew building at Allen High School and the new Ramos Elementary School Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. The Clifford S. Bartholomew building features over 84,000 square feet of ample classroom space, administrative offices, a two-story cafeteria and a media center. The three-story building houses the school’s ninth grade students. The Ramos Elementary School is 85,000 square feet, designed in three masses. The building houses several learning communities for each grade level and accommodates 750 students.

The architect for the Allen High School building was USA Architects, Planners + Interior Designers, while Roberson Butz Architects designed the elementary school. General contractor Alvin H. Butz Inc. worked on both projects. Construction on the high school began in October of 2008 and ended in July 2011. The project cost $19.5 million, and was part of a larger $49.6 million project providing additions and renovations to the school. The new elementary school was under construction from November 2008 until July 2010, and cost $19.2 million.

Both schools feature aspects of the USGBC’s LEED design elements. Each building’s roof is completely covered in vegetation, excluding areas covering by mechanical equipment. Butz utilized water-efficient plumbing, energy-efficient mechanics and lighting and materials that were either recycled or acquired from the surrounding region. Each building’s design relies on ample sunlight as well in order to reduce the cost of artificial lighting.

Each of the projects had a specific goal in mind. The Bartholomew building for Allen High School “provided a stand-alone facility for incoming freshmen to make the adjustment to high school, while relieving overcrowding in the existing facilities,” said Tom Daniels, the senior project manager for Butz. The elementary school, on the other hand, replaced the adjacent Jackson Elementary School. “The Ramos School was the first new elementary school in the district in over 35 years,” Daniels said. “The goal was to provide an outstanding educational facility incorporating green-build concepts to elementary school kids.”

Each building features several noteworthy elements of green building. The new high school building has minimal impact on the urban environment. “The project had a well insulated building envelope, using insulated panels, High E glazing and well insulated cavity wall construction,” said Daniels. The use of green roofs and pre-existing concrete sidewalks and grass allowed the project team to prevent storm water runoff from increasing as well.

As for the elementary school, the use of curtain wall construction and glazing allowed the team to achieve a high level of natural lighting. Evidence of the project’s educational value is visible throughout the school on informative green building signage as well.

Daniels stated that the success of the projects was due to the excellent relationship between Allentown School District, the construction manager, architects and prime contractors. Each project relied on more green roofing and LEED Energy and Atmosphere points than Butz had used before. Daniels said that it helped the company gain more experience working with the LEED framework and better prepared them to engage in green building with clients in the future.

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