Sustainable Natatorium/Aquatics Center Design – Part Four (Buy-in from the Beginning)
In a previous post, I discussed the importance of a goal-oriented collaborative design process that starts as early as possible. This is especially important when it comes to the sustainable aspirations of a construction project, whether it’s a new aquatics center or a cafeteria renovation.
Long before we began programming the Niles North High School Aquatics Center, Niles Township High School District 219 (D219) had made sustainable practices a priority. D219 had created a 5-year Plan to “supercharge the achievement of every student” at its two high schools. Part of the plan called for improving energy efficiency and reducing its environmental footprint.
So when it came time to discuss sustainable components of the Aquatics Center, it was full steam ahead. We explored sustainable strategies related to daylighting and water conservation in a design workshop that brought to the table community members, student athletes, coaches, architects, engineers, and construction professionals.
Smaller design workshops focused on the use of recycled and regionally sourced materials, as well as reviewing conceptual energy models to ensure that the design would be as efficient as possible. Pool facilities typically consume five times more energy than the average commercial building, so energy efficiency was a must.
The resulting design decreases the center’s energy use by 44% and water use by 42% compared to a typical aquatics center of similar size.
This winter, the Aquatics Center achieved LEED for Schools Gold certification from the US Green Building Council. The center became the country’s highest LEED rated facility of its kind. That’s a powerful testament to the importance of buy-in from the beginning.