Green is the new gold

Published 5:13 pm Thursday, July 3, 2008

By SAMANTHA HURST / Lifestyles Editor

Mt Laurel – Hilltop Montessori School recently took a gold medal for being green.

The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the school with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification for the design of its 16,000-square-foot school.

Hilltop Executive Director Michele Scott said the green philosophy fits hand-in-hand with the mission of Montessori schools.

“We want to educate our children about the importance of conserving the environment. We want them to be responsible for themselves and their impact on the world around them,” Scott said. “The LEED certification gives our school the distinction of truly being a green building.”

Hilltop is the first private school in the state to gain that distinction.

Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, said in a release that Hilltop should be congratulated for taking innovative steps.

“Green schools provide the healthiest, safest environments for learning and growing – all while saving money, contributing toward mitigating climate change and improving our environment,” he said.

HKW Architects designed the more than $2 million facility, while JohnsonKreis Construction made those designs into reality. Scott said their involvement in the project had a great benefit for students.

“The architect came out and showed the students materials that would be used to construct the building and even gave them a lesson,” Scott said. “During the building phase, the company stopped construction twice to give a group of students a tour of the building so they could see it all being put together.”

She said the students really pay attention to aspects like the day lighting – even taking their books and sitting in the stream of natural light coming through the windows – and the HVAC unit, which looks like giant tubes of white linen hanging across the ceiling.

Other factors like double-pained windows, recycled jeans for insulation, recycled glass for reflective tiles in the bathroom and milk-based paint throughout, pushed the school toward its new honor.

Birmingham’s Piedmont Green Building Solutions LLC provided LEED consulting services for the school.

LEED certification requires builders to enhance and protect natural habitats, conserve natural resources, reduce solid wastes, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and improve air and water quality.

During the entire construction process, crews only took away two dumpsters of post-construction trash. The rest of the leftover materials were recycled.