Falls Church City Public Schools announced today that the recently constructed Meridian High School has been awarded LEED Gold certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the most widely used green building rating system globally and an international symbol of excellence. Through design, construction, and operations practices that improve environmental and human health, LEED-certified buildings are helping to make the world more sustainable.
“It was quite a tall task because it was the first time USGBC was using a new LEED scorecard, a much more rigorous approach to getting the designation,” said Superintendent Peter Noonan. “Anything that you can do in that building that reduces your carbon footprint increases your score for LEED.
Meridian High School achieved LEED certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions in areas including sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. Green buildings allow companies to operate more sustainably and give the people inside them a healthier, more comfortable space to work.
Strategies used to achieve LEED Gold:
- Access to quality transportation
- Green vehicles (access to charge stations and parking)
- Designing a compact building means density and being part of a larger development is diverse use
- High-performance envelope
- Reduced heat island effect by having many green spaces and a light-colored roof
- Joint use facility (school as a community center)
- Water Metering coupled with both outdoor and indoor water use reduction such as low flow fixtures and limiting the amount of landscape that needs to be irrigated and no cooling tower (because of geothermal)
- Use of geothermal and high-efficiency VFR units for HVAC
- Using responsible products and materials that have low VOC or have recycled contents
- Having a responsible contractor that separates construction waste material for recycling
- Same as above except for building owners separating waste and recycling
- Enhanced indoor air quality
- Use of LED lights throughout
- Innovative stormwater management best practices such as planted bio-retention and green roofs that can be used for educational purposes as well as porous paving
- Green building education (signage and tours)
- Net Zero Ready
- Integrated Design Process and Community Outreach
“So many of the items that are now a part of our new high school were put in place specifically to reach the LEED Gold threshold,” Dr. Noonan said. “Meridian soon will have a 65,000 square foot solar array to power the building. That plus sustainable lighting that turns off at night when no one is in the building, and our geothermal heating system, all contribute to a healthier building and planet.”
Green buildings allow schools and companies to operate more sustainably and give the people inside them a healthier, more comfortable space to learn and work. Certification is proof that buildings are going above and beyond to ensure the area is constructed and operated to the highest level of sustainability. More than 49,300 commercial and institutional projects are currently participating in LEED, comprising more than 2.6 million square feet of construction space in all 50 states.