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Ma  Greenscene  Apr16 3

Great green grades for school's sustainable features and innovative approach


The design for the new Washington D.C.-based Dunbar High School is based on its predecessor, a 1917 building that served the school before its demolition in the 1970s.

The new 280,000-square-foot building is the third incarnation of Dunbar High School on this site. The school was founded as the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth in 1870, the first of its kind in the United States. By 1916, the school took the name of the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and moved into a new Tudor-style red brick structure-a stately structure, designed with a flair that enhanced its educational mission. In 1977, with the facility in need of modernization, it was torn down and replaced with a concrete structure in the Brutalist-modern style popular at the time.

Around 2000, the Dunbar Alumni Federation began pressing for a new facility-one that would incorporate features of the historic 1917 structure. The new facility includes an atrium, or the armory like the one where high school Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) practice was once held, and where students could hang out. The armory houses a food court, and a wide staircase leads to a bridge that diagonally crosses the main space to the southside mezzanine.


Excellent Envelope

Metal played a significant part in this school. Approximately 53,339 square feet of Eastman, Ga.- based Alcoa Architectural Products' 4-mm Reynobond Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) with a fire-resistant (FR) core highlights all the entrances of the school as well as the new field house for the athletic department. "The material complements all the columns and soffit areas around the entire complex to give it a clean, modern look that makes the school stand out," says Chris Lemmon, project manager, Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc., Wheeling, W.Va., the metal panel installer.

The Reynobond ACM panels in a Pewter Colorweld 500 coating provide a focal point for the main entry of the school, allowing it to stand out against all other buildings in the area. The schools' metal panel fabricator was East Coast Metal Systems, Bellaire, Ohio.


Unprecedented Ratings

The new school has been awarded the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED for Schools v2009 Platinum certification, making the high school project the highest-rated and only Platinum LEED BD+C: Schools v3-LEED 2009 project worldwide to receive 91 out of 110 points.

Designed by New York City-based Perkins Eastman and Chicago-based Moody Nolan Inc., and built by a joint venture between Washington D.C.-based Smoot Construction D.C. and Providence, R.I.- based Gilbane Building Co., Dunbar High School has achieved this unprecedented rating for its innovative approach and advanced application throughout design and construction. Delivered under a designbuild contract, the project has gained recognition as a prototype for success on design-build, fast-track, urban projects, while at the same time earning accolades for exceeding the local and minority business and workforce results.

Perkins Eastman's Sean O'Donnell AIA, LEED AP, principal-in-charge of the Dunbar project, says designing it brought together the alumni, school, client and builder to create a 21st century campus that honored the tradition of Dunbar. "This vision encouraged us to explore every opportunity to optimize the design," he says. "This process began in the design competition and played out throughout design and construction. Measureable results include higher test scores-Dunbar posted the highest gains of any high school in the city after moving into the new building-as well as increased enrollment and graduation rates. This is also seen in the LEED scorecard, where Dunbar scored 91 credits, more than any other building using LEED for Schools criteria."

The Center for Green Schools at USGBC called the school a "masterpiece of a green learning environment" and The Washington Post placed Dunbar on its list of top-10 recent buildings to see in Washington, D.C.


Sustainable Features

To attain this praise, the new high school has many sustainable features. "The Smoot/Gilbane team worked with the Perkins Eastman/Moody Nolan team to develop a high-performance building program that could be instituted to go beyond traditional LEED requirements at the Dunbar Senior High School project," says Drew Mucci, Gilbane Building's senior vice president in charge of the company's Washington, D.C. business unit. Dunbar has Washington, D.C.'s largest geothermal system. "This system is comprised of 362 wells, each 500 feet deep, that have been drilled beneath the athletic field," O'Donnell says. "The wells are comprised of over 68 miles of tubing and this system uses the earth's constant temperature below ground to pre-heat/cool the building. Every system possible in the building that is generating heat is tied into the field to optimize energy performance of the building, including the pool and the kitchen equipment."

A 482 kW photovoltaic array provided through the district's first Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is mounted on the school's roof. It generates enough energy on a sunny summer day to power all classroom lights for eight hours. O'Donnell says this array system, in addition to the geothermal system, are currently the largest of their kind in Washington, D.C.

Adam Fouse, project manager at Gilbane Building, ensured that the maximum amount of recycled-content materials and regional-based materials were procured for Dunbar, even researching and guiding the trade contractors and suppliers in which factories complied with the requirements. "The project well exceeded the regional materials credit requirements," he says. "Our work during construction also directly impacted the indoor air and environmental quality of the final product by ensuring air delivery systems were protected and kept clean throughout construction, along with dust mitigation and cleaning methods. The team was not only diligent in ensuring that the products included within the final product met or exceeded the sustainability requirements, but also took measures such as diverting over 98 percent of the waste created by the project and the subsequent demolition of the existing high school."

Low-E glass, floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive skylight prompts pervasive daylight and enhanced views; drivers of the Dunbar design from the very beginning. "Tempering that desire was a goal to also control glare in instructional spaces so the building was carefully oriented to provide south and north exposures in instructional spaces and generally to minimize east- and west-facing glazing," O'Donnell says. "This allowed us to use the architecture to minimize glare while encouraging the use of daylight in lieu of electric light. The glazing also fosters a sense of connection and openness to the community. The community considered the previous building to be foreboding and prison-like. In contrast, the new building is open, inviting and connected to the community."

Two 20,000-gallon cisterns for stormwater reclamation, each about the size of a typical school bus, collect water from the roof, filter it and then recirculate it for use in flushing toilets. Low-VOC materials, sustainably harvested wood products, increased acoustical performance for the learning environments, use of regional materials, utilization of innovative wastewater technologies, and 95 percent construction waste diversion are just some of the other features that helped Dunbar exceed its green goals.


Sidebar: What Lies Beneath…

Drew Mucci, senior vice president at Gilbane Building Co., Dunbar High School's general contractor, describes in his own words a hidden challenge that faced the project.

Probably the most challenging aspect of the project was the discovery of the original 1916 high school building located beneath the existing football fields. The original high school was only partially demolished in 1977, and early on in the phase-one construction process the original building's remaining foundation, complete with swimming pool and all below-grade building components, was exposed. Essentially the building had been landfilled in place, and covered up in the 1970s. The removal of the unforeseen, subterranean building, included asbestos and petroleum contamination, set the project schedule back three months. Due to the discovery of the original 1916 high school on the east side of the site, as well as the soil and water contamination at the western end, the project team was faced with an accelerated schedule. Both of these unforeseen challenges contributed to a five-to-six month delay. Further acceleration of the already fast-tracked schedule, and the dedication by the Smoot/Gilbane and Perkins Eastman team, ensured Dunbar Senior High School was successfully completed.


Sidebar: Dunbar Senior High School, Washington, D.C.

Owner: District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, D.C.
Architects: Perkins Eastman, New York City, and Moody Nolan Inc., Chicago
General contractor: Joint venture between Washington, D.C.-based Smoot Construction D.C., and Providence, R.I.-based Gilbane Building Co.
Installer: Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc., Wheeling, W.Va.
Fabricator: East Coast Metal Systems, Bellaire, Ohio,
Metal wall panels: Reynobond by Alcoa Architectural Products, Eastman, Ga.,