Illinois campus is first public high school to receive LEED gold for existing buildings

Oct. 1, 2011
Stevenson High in Lincolnshire carries out upgrades to boost energy efficiency

Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill., has become the first public high school in the country to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold-level certification for existing buildings from the U.S. Green Building Council.

School officials estimate that the school's annual savings from its energy upgrade are $100,000 per year.

Operational changes to improve energy efficiency include cutting back on electricity and natural gas use during non-school hours, increasing recycling and using less paper.

"This is a remarkable accomplishment because we have a school with a footprint of nearly 1 million square feet, and we have more than 4,500 people here on a daily basis," Assistant Superintendent for Business Mark Michelini says in a news release. "Earning LEED gold status is a validation of our ‘green initiative’ to reduce the school's carbon footprint."

The school's green efforts are led by a 40-member committee of students, teachers, administrators, facilities staff, and community and school board members. Their recommendations have resulted in:

  • Increased recycling. The percentage of waste recycled at Stevenson increased from 32 percent in 2008-09 to 42 percent in 2009-10. Twenty-five tons of waste was diverted from landfills to recycling centers in 2009-10.
  • Smarter energy use. Adjustments to lighting, heating and air conditioning during non-school hours led to a 6.9 percent reduction in electricity use between 2008-09 and 2009-10. Natural gas consumption dropped by 4.8 percent during the same time period.
  • Reduced use of paper. Using electronic communications when possible instead of printed material resulted in a 5.3 percent decline in paper used at the school's copying center over three years: from 14.7 million sheets of paper in 2007-08 to 13.9 million sheets in 2009-10.

Students also played a major role in the LEED certification process, the school says. About 20 students conducted transportation surveys of peers, faculty and staff, and found a significant reduction in conventional commuting trips. Students also gathered data on water flow rates and rainwater infiltration.

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