Today’s Solutions: February 23, 2024

What better way to teach future generations about the importance of sustainability than by integrating it within the very own institutions responsible for their education? That’s exactly what a team of architects aimed to achieve by putting sustainability front and center when designing a school and community complex in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex is the first in the state to gain both Net Zero Emissions and LEED v4 Platinum designations, and it uses 43 percent less energy than the average local school and 70 percent less than the average US school. It also recently won a coveted honor in the sustainable design category from the 2020 Boston Society for Architecture Design Awards. 

Featuring multiple green and open spaces as well as five playgrounds, the complex spans 270,000 square feet and accommodates K-8 students. Led by architecture firms William Rawn Associates and Arrowstreet, the project makes use of a number of sustainability tools, including geothermal wells, solar panels, green spaces, and sustainable timber to reduce its environmental footprint.

The project relies 100 percent on electricity that’s supplied by 3,600 PV solar panels covering the rooftop. In addition to the solar panels, the exterior features sunshades, bioswale bridges, and a hand-pumped rain garden. Inside, visitors can find an exposed water reuse system and smart daylight controls, and heating and cooling elements.

“In addition to the design team’s masterful design, the City of Cambridge deserves recognition for its investment in an ambitious project that sets the bar for future schools and libraries,” said the award jury for the Sustainable Design Awards.

We recently wrote about the Green School, which uses outdoor education to teach students about sustainable living. This is yet another model for what environmentally-conscious educational institutes can look like and how they can model sustainability in their design while teaching about sustainability in their curriculums.

Image source: City of Cambridge

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