Massachusetts School Goes Green and Portable
In December the nation's first environmentally friendly, or "green," modular classroom building opened at The Carroll School in Lincoln, Mass., an independent day school for elementary and middle school children diagnosed with learning disabilities.
The SmartSpace classroom building is the newest product offered by Triumph Leasing (www.triumphleasing.com), New England's largest modular building rental and leasing company.
Steve Wilkins, headmaster of the school, says that it is too early to assess the degree of educational benefits afforded to the children by the building, but he notes that its mere presence at the school represents a way of looking at the world from a more environmental perspective, and many of the school's students are already talking about the advantages of "going green."
Research by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company has also shown that students in classrooms with ample natural daylight have fewer absences and perform up to 26 percent better on standardized tests.
Carroll is designed for bright kids with disabilities, or "the next generation of students to solve the world's problems," Wilkins says. He feels that the building can be an excellent teaching tool.
Currently the building is being used for one-on-one tutoring sessions and group work projects, and he says that at any time there could be as many as 10 to 15 different activities going on in the building.
The building protects the health of the environment, children and teachers, and is loaded with features to reduce energy use and utility bills. According to the Harvard, Mass.-based Hickory Consortium, a sustainable building consortium, the building delivers up to 50 percent energy savings over normal maintenance costs.
It includes a reflective roof to cut airconditioning costs and lighting sensors that automatically dim the lights when the sun provides enough natural light. Its recycled steel construction makes its structure mold resistant because it's cellulose-free. The interior walls are also covered with a formaldehyde-free product made from recovered wood fiber that helps to reduce deforestation.
Cliff Cort, president of Triumph Leasing, says that one of the biggest benefits of housing portable classroom buildings on your campus is just that-they're portable. The ability to pack an entire classroom onto a truck and move it to another school is a great benefit to school boards trying to plan for changing enrollments.
"Everyone is struggling with crumbling educational facilities, but we can create high quality, sustainable classrooms, and we can do it fast," Cort states. "It's not pie in the sky anymore."
Palm Beach School District and FAU Break Ground for Green Initiative
Leaders from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and the Palm Beach County School District recently broke ground for two new projects: Florida's first "green" elementary school and a new facility for the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, one of the oldest nature centers in the nation, serving over 25,000 students and 750 teachers annually from Palm Beach County and the surrounding counties.
The school will be the first in the state to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating and will be among only a dozen public schools in the nation to be LEED certified.
Building upon a forty-year partnership between Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, a unit of the College of Education at FAU, and the Palm Beach County school system, the district will construct a 15,000-square-foot facility for the center. The new school in turn will coordinate with the academic programs and resources at FAU and provide professional development opportunities for educators. The green elements of the new elementary school will become an integral part of the curriculum.
The new school and Pine Jog facility are scheduled to open no later than August 2008.