Hilltops green building dedicated

SPECIAL TO THE REPORTER

After nearly one year of construction and five years of fundraising, Hilltop Montessori School finally opened the doors to its new LEED-certified green school in November 2006.

They will mark the occasion with a special dedication ceremony Feb. 19 at 10 a.m.

The ceremony will recognize key players in the school&8217;s construction and also unveil the classrooms named in honor of key people.

Tours of the new facility will also be conducted to introduce attendees to the green building concept, illustrate the Montessori way of teaching and show how the two blend seamlessly together.

The new facility, located in the town of Mt Laurel on a parcel of land donated by EBSCO Industries, Inc., meets strict guidelines set by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification means that a building has been constructed with respect for existing natural habitats and resource conservation, the production of solid wastes and greenhouse gas emissions has been reduced and that air and water quality have been improved.

Michele Scott, executive director of Hilltop Montessori, explained that the green school is one of the only non-residential green buildings in Alabama and the Southeast.

Hilltop Montessori&8217;s green building was the first of any kind, including residential, commercial, industrial, civic, institutional or academic buildings registered within the state of Alabama.

Scott hopes Hilltop&8217;s green school will impact more than just the student and faculty body. &8220;We want this to be a &8216;Lab for Learning&8217; where the community can come and learn about sustainable development and green construction,&8221; Scott said. Through the creation of an Eco-Education Center, Hilltop will be able to further educate the community on the importance of conservation and building green.

&8220;We feel that there needs to be a greater focus on the environment in Birmingham,&8221; Scott explained. &8220;Hopefully by sharing our knowledge of green building and environmental preservation we can impact other construction.&8221;

HKW Architects, Jane Reed Ross and Associates and JohnsonKreis Construction worked with Hilltop to design and build the $2.3 million facility.

Ground was broken in January 2006, although fundraising and planning began five years prior.

The school currently serves 160 students, grades preschool through eighth.