First LEED® Certified High School in Illinois: Bolingbrook High School

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

365 Raider Way, Bolingbrook, IL 60440  Map

Valley View Public School District 365U

Wight & Company

365 Raider Way

365 Raider Way

When it opened in 2004, the new Bolingbrook High School became the first LEED® certified high school in Illinois, and only the third in the entire country.  The 568,000 square foot facility, designed to accommodate 3,600 students, was completed on an expedited schedule though a unique design-build process, with Wight & Company serving as the architect, civil engineer, and general contractor.  This facility is just one example of the large and growing movement to build and certify green schools.  In many cases, the buildings themselves become part of the curriculum, reflecting the importance of education in the green building movement.

The sustainable features of this building once again start with its integration into its surroundings.  To minimize impacts to the existing terrain and reduce the need for grading, the building is built into the side of a hill that rises more than 28 vertical feet.  The arts wing faces north to maximize natural light while minimizing glare to student art projects on display.  Indigenous plants reduce the need for irrigation and bioswales help filter water to protect the creek and natural wetlands located on the 70-acre site.

One particularly interesting green building features is an innovative condensate recovery system that captures and reuses water from rooftop air conditioning units.  As warm, humid air passes over the chillers, water condenses on the cold coils, in much the same way that a glass of lemonade “sweats” in the summertime.  This water is then collected and reused, rather than allowed drip away or re-evaporate, resulting in a savings of 360,000 gallons of fresh water each year.  Although it’s not  suitable for drinking, this recovered greywater can be used in many different ways, from cooling towers to low-flow toilets. 

Around the time Bolingbrook High School was finished and certified under LEED® NC, the USGBC recognized a need for a rating system better suited to the unique needs and opportunities of schools.  Development of the LEED® for Schools rating system began in 2004, and the program entered full implementation in April of 2007.  Two other notable groups that have taken up the cause of greening our schools are the Collaborative for High Performance Schools and the Healthy Schools Campaign.  I particularly like the way these programs use the terms “high performance” and “healthy” interchangeably with terms like “green, environmental, and sustainable.”  After all, green buildings are not just good for the earth, but are also great for the people who own and use them.  And what better place to emphasize health and high-performance than the centers of education for our children?

Other team members for Bolingbrook High School include Franklin Hill & Associates for Educational Planning, WMA Consulting Engineers for MEP engineering and commisioning, and Larson Engineering of Illinois for structural engineering.

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