Sidwell School: 70% Less Water, 60% Less Energy


I braved the midday heat of Washington DC yesterday, to circumnavigate and photograph the Sidwell Friends School, a private middle school. This building was awarded the coveted Platinum LEED by the Green Building Council, and it was one of the American Institute of Architect's Top Ten Green Project for 2007. Impressively, this school uses 70% less water and 60% less energy that a comparable building. I noted the use of many green roof elements, and many greywater recycling ponds. Inside, daylight use is extensive. Photosensors automatically dim or shut off the electric lights when daylight is sufficient, and occupancy sensors ensure that lights are shut off when rooms are unoccupied. More details and photos over the fold...


The design optimizes daylight and minimizes solar glare on each building exposure. On the south façade, horizontal solar light shelves both screen out the sun and welcome daylight. On the east and west façades, vertical solar shading screens are angled appropriately against the east and west glare.



A courtyard wetland with a closed-loop cycle allows for water reuse. The wetland takes the form of terraced rice paddies along the site’s natural topography. Rainwater is held and filtered through a vegetated roof on the new wing and channeled down the courtyard side into a collection stream that runs under the building’s entry bridge and drains into a biology pond. The pond supports native habitat and micro-organisms that will decompose wastewater as it moves through the functional wetland.

Virtually every material in the building is either reclaimed or recycled. The cladding of the building is 100-year-old western red cedar reclaimed from wine barrels. Material for the walkways, inside lobby, and decks is green lumber pilings reclaimed from the Baltimore Harbor. There is extensive use of linoleum, cork, and reclaimed stone.


Actively, photovoltaic roof panels provide much of the building’s electricity. Passively, two solar chimneys on the new wing offer natural ventilation. “The solar chimneys and the shafts interconnect to the lower levels, which is made apparent by little port holes in the shafts.


A vegetable-garden rooftop on the new wing serves as an insulator and is part of the water recycling system. The green roof is also a food garden, managed by the students and teachers.


See also LEED Platinum: Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Headquarters

Via: AIA