Charlottesville Waldorf School Continues Campaign to Become the "Greenest School in America"

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The “best place to live in America” is on its way to featuring the “Greenest School in America.” Charlottesville, Virginia’s new Charlottesville Waldorf School is in the midst of a $6.2 million capital campaign designed to help the school become the first LEED Platinum elementary school in the country. It will feature a completely integrated “green” design featuring straw bale construction, a rammed earth wall, a living roof, geothermal heating and cooling, water reclamation and passive solar technologies.

The “best place to live in America” is on its way to featuring the “Greenest School in America.”

Charlottesville, Virginia’s new Charlottesville Waldorf School is in the midst of a $6.2 million capital campaign designed to help the school become the first LEED Platinum elementary school in the country. It will feature a completely integrated “green” design featuring straw bale construction, a rammed earth wall, a living roof, geothermal heating and cooling, water reclamation and passive solar technologies.

“This is a project that comes from a deep commitment to the environment that is an integral part of the fabric of the Waldorf education,” said Sarah Tremaine, Chair of the Charlottesville Waldorf Foundation. “At the same time, the project allows us to teach by example and to promote a new, sensible movement among other schools, corporations and individuals. We invite all concerned Americans to play a part in our effort and help to positively impact our environment and those who live in it for generations of Americans to come.”

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council and reserved only for those projects and builders who adhere to the ultimate standards of environmental responsibility. The certification is based on a checklist of environmental factors in six categories: sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere, water efficiency, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation and design process.

The building is designed by Charlottesville architect and Waldorf School parent Ted Jones. “The process of going from a green project to a LEED Platinum building,” Jones said, “expands the issue of environmentally-friendly design into a national debate on how a building can challenge us all to analyze the connections between resource management and industrial manufacturing.”

The design and building process for the Charlottesville Waldorf School began with extensive site research that provided for the optimal placement of the building, ensuring that light, water and other organic elements are maximized. The process extends through every material used in the construction, from their proximity to the site, to the time and method of transportation, materials used in their manufacturing and more.

While these external elements are critically important to the process and to the short and long term environmental properties of the project, the Charlottesville Waldorf School will also offer a host of benefits for the students and teachers themselves. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one-half of the 115,000 elementary and secondary schools have significant problems with indoor air pollution, and the problem consistently ranks as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. Both children and adults in “green” buildings have been shown to miss fewer days of school and work, respectively, while exhibiting greater energy to be devoted to learning activities.

The campaign, called “Building a School, LEEDing a Community,” is geared not only toward building the school, but toward galvanizing a community, Tremaine said. “We are creating a school that will be a model of affordability in green design. It allows members of our community, and communities across the country to be part of a brand new business paradigm that is at once local, sustainable and affordable. Starting with Thomas Jefferson himself, Charlottesville has a long and well-documented legacy of groundbreaking thought and activism, and this is a perfect opportunity to showcase those qualities to the world.”

The Charlottesville Waldorf School is one of 900 Waldorf Schools worldwide. For the past 20 years, the school has taught environmental responsibility as an integral part of its curriculum. It has grown from a 12-student kindergarten program to a full 180-student elementary program educating nursery through eighth grade.

For more information on “Building a School, LEEDing a Community” or on the Charlottesville Waldorf Foundation’s “Greenest School in America” campaign, contact Marianne Lund, Chairperson, Charlottesville Waldorf Foundation at 434-825-1897 or visit their website at http://www.greenestschool.org.

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Mark Glickman