John Dorr Nature Laboratory

Centerbrook designed the LEED Gold, energy-conserving facilities for the John Dorr Nature Laboratory, which is located on Horace Mann School’s 287-acre environmental campus in Washington, Connecticut. The complex includes a new lodge and an adjoining barn that houses a classroom, wet lab and two faculty apartments.


Horace Mann School

Location Washington Depot, CT
Size 16,790 Sq. Ft.
Features LEED
Program classrooms, laboratories, apartments
Year Completed 2009
Photo Credit Roger Williams, Centerbrook
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The rustic styled building is designed to enhance Dorr's programs and to reflect its commitment to environmental awareness with its use of renewable resources. On-site solar and geothermal systems are expected to cut energy usage by 32 percent, saving an estimated 4,121 gallons of fuel oil and reducing carbon emissions by 42 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 30 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 $10,000 annually in utility costs.

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. Horace Mann, founded in 1887, 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.