Day School celebrates green achievement
North Shore Country Day School freshmen attend a presentation and discussion in the Upper School "V". The facing staircases have become a hangout for students between classes as well as a place to learn. | Provided
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:03AM
WINNETKA—More than a year after completing the renovation of their 40,000 square foot Upper School building the staff at North Shore Country Day School capped off one final piece of the project.
When opened in Aug. 2011, the building fell just one point short of LEED silver certification.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design originally designated the building a LEED certified building, but the school’s Director of Operations Cindy Hooper wasn’t satisfied.
The staff focused on the main entrance carpeting, which they chose as a cleaner, cheaper alternative to floor mats. LEED had issues with the carpet, but with Hooper’s appeal, and the backing of Interface Flooring, the school finally received their LEED silver certification Oct. 15.
“This past Monday they said, ‘We’ll give you the point,’” Hooper said. “They are also doing that for all other schools who have appealed a similar situation.”
As the campus’ main high school building, the Upper School is home to nearly 200 students, 17 learning studios (classrooms) and six specialty spots. The final design included input from staff and students alike.
“They wanted color, wanted it to be open to daylight and nature, bigger classrooms and have what we call, nooks and crannies, where kids can spread out,” Hooper said.
One of the more student-friendly areas sits between the first and second floor, a large staircase now known as, ‘The V.’
“It’s pretty cool how the kids have settled into (the building),” said Tura Cottingham, director of marketing and communications. “After a few weeks the students adopted it and named it, ‘The V.’”
The building includes low flow faucets and toilets, rooftop gardens to limit water runoff, occupancy sensors and a new heating/air conditioning system which improves the school’s air quality, something the building didn’t have before.
“It was built in 1920 and this was pre-insulation,” Hooper said. “They kept our old windows to allow natural light into the classrooms. They completely gutted the old building and 94 percent of the materials taken out were recycled.”
The building was last renovated in the 1950s and the staff didn’t intend to achieve LEED certification, but the thoughts and ideas of North Shore Country Day staff, the architects and builders lined up with today’s LEED standards.
Hooper says it is tough to calculate how much money in energy costs the building will save since it actually uses more energy with the new air conditioning and heating systems, but the affect on students and learning is immeasurable.
“We wanted to use this building as a teaching tool for sustainability and stewardship,” Hooper said. “We built it around what we think a school is. We knew what we were after in terms of the kids’ health and safety. It was built specifically for teaching and learning.”