School Earns Top Green Grades

Published on April 27th, 2015

McDonnell Hall and Brauer Hall, designed by Centerbrook for the Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in Missouri, have earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which administers the most widely used sustainable building program in the world. LEED stands for “leadership in energy and environmental design,” and platinum signifies the most sustainable buildings. Only about one in 20 LEED certified projects earn the top rating. This is the fourth Centerbrook LEED Platinum building.

The 86,000-square-foot complex opened last year and encompassed McDonnell Hall, a STEM facility that enhanced the curricula for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as well as Brauer Hall, which serves as a center for the entire school community with its 800-seat amphitheater, faculty offices, and varied sociable spaces.

Among project’s sustainable features are:

  • Building efficiency 55 percent above code-required standards
  • An array of 100kW photovoltaic panels that supply 18% of electrical needs, while solar thermal panels provide hot water for the complex
  • A 10,000 gallon underground tank that captures rainwater roof runoff to flush toilets, for plant irrigation, and to help cool a greenhouse, reducing potable water needs by 76%
  • Native plants used in landscaping to reduce irrigation needs by 58%; and water for irrigation comes from harvested rainwater system
  • An Outdoor Learning Environment was created by converting four acres of manicured turf to a natural habitat with indigenous plants: increasing the infiltration of storm water, providing environments for native animals, and extending the learning opportunities for students outside the classroom
  • More than 90 percent of construction debris diverted from landfills and recycled
  • Ninety percent of wood-based materials were certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promoted environmentally responsible forest management
  • More than 30 percent of construction materials sourced locally or regionally

MICDS tasked Centerbrook with creating engaging and flexible spaces geared to the latest pedagogical concepts for teaching science and mathematics in the competitive environment of the 21st century. The complex itself serves as a teaching resource through its use of sustainable design approaches; in addition, energy and water savings can be measured and monitored in real time by students using a dashboard that tracks building performance. Centerbrook Partner Jim Childress, FAIA, and Principal Todd Andrews, AIA, led the design team.