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1. Intent

The Sustainability Subcommittee of the Northwood Facilities Committee is submitting the following as guidance during design and construction of the reopening of Northwood High School.

We believe that pursuing these Guidelines will benefit Northwood by:

  1. Reinforcing the program theme of environmental sustainability.
  2. Providing dynamic and engaging opportunities for learning in the design, operation and maintenance of the building and grounds.
  3. Enhancing student performance: students in schools with extensive daylighting have been found to have 7 to 26% better test scores than students at schools with the least daylighting (please see attached synopsis). Daylighting has also been found to have health benefits.
  4. Cutting the school's operating costs.

    The Committee suggests using the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) System as a guide to best practices for implementation of the proposed Sustainability Guidelines.

    Attached is a LEED Scorecard that identifies target credits with matching design goals for Northwood. The LEED Rating System 2.1 gives a more detailed description of each credit, requirements and standards, as well as suggested technologies and strategies, as defined by the US Green Building Council. A copy of the LEED 2.1 Rating System can be downloaded at

    Section 3 of this document provides some tailoring of the general LEED Guidelines to opportunities at Northwood. Although the LEED Guidelines provide valuable information, we do not anticipate gaining LEED certification because of the need for commissioning.

    2. Goals

    The Northwood Sustainability Committees suggestions are based on the following general goals:

  5. Optimize acoustical, thermal and visual comfort for all students and staff in all parts of the school building and grounds
  6. Provide a healthy, safe and optimized learning environment giving priority to the most frequented and highest occupied areas
  7. Ensure the health and safety of students using the building during construction
  8. Provide a low maintenance and durable school building that serves as a teaching tool for the environmental education curriculum of Northwood
  9. Conserve natural resources and energy during construction and operation

    We also propose measurable goals:

  10. At reopening, attain an Energy Star rating of 50 or above (this is the goal for all MCPS schools; we should not shoot any lower), with Energy Star 75+ in new construction.
  11. Do not diminish (and if possible, improve) water quality in any streams impacted by the facility.

    These Guidelines apply to the reopening project. A separate set of Guidelines has been prepared as a "master plan" for future phases and integration of green building into the school's curriculum.

    3. Sustainability Guidelines for Northwood High School

    Site û Water û Energy û Materials û Indoor Air Quality

    3.1 Site

  12. Design for no increase, or a decrease in stormwater discharge from the site: Stormwater management plan should consider water quantity and quality and use of natural processes to clean and store water.
  13. Minimize parking to limit storm water run-off and encourage use of public transportation: should be considered as part of traffic study (if study proceeds)
  14. Make Northwood a bicycle-friendly facility by providing conveniently-located bike racks and making any new sidewalks 5 feet wide to accommodate bikes
  15. Use pervious parking surfaces to help rainwater infiltration (grass and gravel or porous pavement). Applies to any new parking associated with the reopening (e.g. recommended by traffic study, if any).
  16. Use pervious surfaces for new patios, walkways, etc.
  17. Provide all landscaping with native plants that also provide shade and wildlife value and improve energy performance (trees on south and west side of buildings): Landscaping is currently an add-alternate. If pursued, should follow this guideline.
  18. No irrigation with potable water and limit extent of lawns to minimize use of fertilizers and pesticides (utilize micro spray systems and decommission old irrigations systems)
  19. Design green roof for greenhouse (add alternate)
  20. Use light-colored, reflective surface on all new roofs to save energy
  21. Determine and reserve site for future ECO- School House (= Green House Classroom with green building features as teaching tool and environmental research facility for school system
  22. Integrated Pest Management -non-pesticide use on landscaping
  23. Prevent light pollution through use of downward-shining outdoor lighting

    3.2 Water

  24. Pilot the use of water-efficient plumbing fixtures in new construction (work with Maintenance and Plant Operation):
    1. Waterless urinals for bathrooms - aerators for faucets (0.5gal/min)- Dual-flush toilets
    2. Electrical hand dryers (no paper towels)
    3. Determine location of Rainwater Gardens for student planting and research (site planning)

    3.3 Energy

  25. Conduct Peer review of proposed new and existing building systems
  26. Conduct life cycle analysis of HVAC systems for new construction; select energy-efficient options (e.g. provide thermal storage, variable volume pumping and digital controls for water loop heat pumps, maybe heat pumps that can be adapted to ground source heat pumps later, consider geothermal etc.)
  27. Calibrate and optimize the operations of the heating plant.
  28. Provide Energy model for existing building with/without all new windows -Lifecycle Cost Analysis
  29. Determine minimum necessary building renovation measures to meet goal of Energy Star 50+
  30. Study energy model for additions and meet Energy Star 75+ (Add alternate)
  31. Optimize daylighting in new construction
  32. Optimize daylighting in existing building replacement window design (add alternate); utilize existing window openings (i.e. don't make them smaller in the course of replacing windows); design so as to accommodate light shelves now or in the future.
  33. Specify energy efficient lighting for any new lighting in existing building, optimize use of natural light
  34. Consider piloting fluorescent T8 linear pendants and low maintenance fixtures for area of new building
  35. In new construction, separate light switch locations along daylight areas from main light switch (to make it more of an effort to turn on lights that are not needed in daytime)

    3.4 Materials

  36. Minimize demolition and recycle construction waste
  37. High recycled content in building material (pilot if necessary, working with Maintenance and Plant Operation)
    1. Carpet and carpet tile
    2. Acoustic ceiling tile
    3. Gypsum board
    4. Etc.
  38. Provide recycling room
  39. Pilot linoleum instead of vinyl in portion of new construction
  40. Specify certified wood (by Forest Stewardship Council), as add alternate
  41. Use refurbished salvaged furniture where feasible
  42. Favor durable and low maintenance materials and avoid composites

    3.5 Indoor Air Quality

  43. Develop Indoor Air Quality Management Plan for construction
  44. No VOC in paints, sealants and adhesives
  45. No or low formaldehyde in insulation and millwork
  46. Separation of air intakes from outdoor pollution, e.g. loading dock, discharges from exhaust fans, tooling towers
  47. Get Northwood included in MCPS IAQ Proactive Initiative
  48. Use high efficiency filters in the HVAC system
  49. Explore use of exposed new ductwork in lieu of acoustic ceiling tiles û use vertical sound baffles for acoustics (minimum in mock-up pilot)
  50. Provide Walk-off areas at all entrance

    The Northwood Sustainability Subcommittee contact is Leah Haygood at 301.593.1789,

    Subcommittee Members:

    Leah Haygood

    Kathy Michels

    Ed Murtagh

    Others welcome!


    Recent studies show that daylighting in schools may significantly increase students' test scores and promote better health and physical development and can be attained without an increase in school construction or maintenance costs.

    One study analyzed the test scores of more than 21,000 students in three school districts in California, Washington, and Colorado, using multivariate linear regression to control for other influences on student performance. These are profound results, which have been carried out under rigorous statistical controls. In one school district, students with the most daylighting in their classrooms progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading tests when compared to students in the least daylit classrooms. In the other two school districts, students in classrooms with the most daylighting were found to have 7% - 18% higher scores than those in the least. Another study compared test scores for students in three daylit schools in North Carolina to scores in the county school system as a whole and other new schools within the county. Test scores for over 1,200 students in daylit schools were compared to scores for the students in the county. The study showed that students who attended daylit schools outperformed the students in non-daylit schools by 5% -14%.

    Two studies suggest that daylighting in classrooms can promote overall health and physical development. In a study of 90 Swedish elementary school students, researchers tracked behavior, health, and cortisol (a stress hormone) levels over the course of a year in four classrooms with varying daylighting levels. The results indicate work in classrooms without daylight may upset the basic hormone pattern, and this in turn may influence the children's ability to concentrate or cooperate, and also eventually have an impact on annual body growth and absenteeism.

    In another study in Alberta, Canada, over a two-year period, children attending elementary schools with full spectrum light were compared with children in classrooms with conventional lighting. The results of the study suggest that the students in the full-spectrum lit classrooms had fewer days of absence per year as well as enhanced health effects. Daylighting allowed for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to be downsized, which in turn reduced the noise levels in both the classrooms and library, thus enhancing the learning environment.

    In addition, schools found that increasing the amount of daylighting in school design did not necessarily represent an increase in school construction and operation costs. Incorporating design components such as light sensors, and optimizing mechanical and electrical systems due to reduced cooling and lighting loads, can actually reduce the initial capital cost because of the reduced size and cost of HVAC equipment. Furthermore, the operations and maintenance costs are reduced due to a smaller electrical load and a smaller number of lighting fixtures to maintain. In a study conducted in daylit schools in North Carolina, investments in daylighting could be paid back within three to nine years. For five daylit schools in North Carolina, authors of the study state that "the cost of the daylighting components have added little to the first-cost of the projects." Therefore, optimizing daylighting in the construction of new schools is an attractive option to potentially improve the performance and health of America's students.