New Sustainable Environmental Center Opens

CENTERBROOK, Conn. -- New energy-conserving facilities for the John Dorr Nature Laboratory opened this fall on Horace Mann School’s 265-acre environmental campus in Washington, Connecticut. The 19,000-square-foot complex includes a new Lodge and an adjoining barn that houses a classroom, wet lab and two faculty apartments.

Now in its 45th year, John Dorr offers outdoor activities and educational programs for students of the Bronx, New York school, starting in the nursery division. Water explorations, astronomy, habitat exploration, entomology, and climbing a 45-foot adventure tower and rope course are among the environmental adventures. Glenn Sherratt, the Director of John Dorr Nature Laboratory, can be reached at 880.868.2230.

Designed by Centerbrook Architects, the buildings, which feature on-site solar and geothermal systems, are expected to use half the energy of comparable, conventionally built structures, saving an estimated 4,336 gallons of fuel oil and reducing carbon emissions by 72 tons annually.

“Horace Mann is proud of its efforts to teach students and faculty alike about the importance of minimizing the School’s carbon footprint,” said Dr. Thomas M. Kelly, Head of School for Horace Mann.

The Lodge, which was constructed of environmentally responsible and sustainable materials, is sited and designed for optimal energy and water efficiency and for maximizing natural lighting and ventilation. Solar roof panels generate 50 percent of its electricity annually, and solar collectors provide 90 percent of the hot water. Rainwater is collected for irrigation and sanitation purposes. A geothermal pump reduces the energy needed to cool John Dorr’s offices by 20 percent. These and other energy-conserving features are expected to save the school $12,876 annually in utility costs.

Founded in 1887, Horace Mann is a highly regarded independent day school with an enrollment of 1,784 girls and boys from nursery through high school. It counts among its distinguished graduates Pulitzer Prize winners Robert Caro, Anthony Lewis, and Elliot Carter.

Jim Childress was the Centerbrook partner in charge of the design, and Sheri Dieso was Project Manager.