Millbrook School is a coeducational boarding school for 250 students located in the mid–Hudson Valley region of New York. With one of its missions as “stewardship of the environment,” the school has recently moved toward implementing sustainable practices in its campus planning. The new Math & Science Center will be the first major building on campus to integrate sustainable design principles into its design. It is targeted to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold Rating, where it will be one of the first school buildings in the state to receive this illustrious designation.
The 25,000 s.f. building consists of four, discipline-specific science labs, independent project areas, five math classrooms, an IT suite and server room, faculty office suite, and a free-standing greenhouse. Recognizing the important of daylight and views to both energy efficiency and creating a good learning environment, all learning spaces and offices will be receive natural lighting from large windows in at least two directions, and are coupled with high efficiency light fixtures coupled with daylight harvesting sensors and dimming ballasts to automatically control energy consumption.
Energy efficiency is also achieved in the building’s mechanical system by utilizing a geothermal heating and cooling system. The sixteen, 500-foot closed-loop wells quietly and cleanly transfer heat energy to and from the earth at a percentage of the operating cost of a standard boiler and chiller system. Further energy savings are gained by a building design that allows for natural ventilation of the building in the fall and spring, and for absorbing the sun’s energy in the colder months. The standing-seam metal roof has a special finish that minimizes the heat absorbed in the hot summer months.
Intended to be used as a teaching tool, other sustainable practices are conspicuously located throughout the building. On the roof is a solar hot water heating system and an array of photovoltaic cells for generating electricity for the building; a display at the main entry will show all entering the building how much power is being generated from the sun. Water use is economized by collecting rainwater from the roof into an interior cistern that is visible from the main stair and by installing flushless urinals in the restrooms. A vegetated roof over the flat roof of the science corridor will be readily visible from the floor above. Sustainable and natural material choices, such as concrete flooring, slate, wool carpet, wood fiber ceilings, low VOC paints, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified woods, and furniture made with recycled materials, create an interior that fits the school’s character while respecting the environment.