Officer Donald Marquez Charter School Seeks LEED® Silver Certification

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

2916 W. 47th St., Chicago, IL 60632  Map

United Neighborhood Organization

Austin AECOM

2916 W. 47th St.

2916 W. 47th St.

Officer Donald Marquez Charter School is one of two green school renovations underway by the United Neighborhood Organiozation (UNO). This first project is housed in a former Misericordia home for disabled children in Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood. The two & four story, 58,150 sf building is opening this fall as a charter elementary school for 520 students, operated by the UNO Charter School Network. The project is seeking LEED® Silver certification.

The green approach is fairly standard, including native vegetation and reduction of paved outdoor areas, a dense urban location, high-efficiency (but off-the-shelf) mechanical and lighting systems (such as daylight dimming and motion sensors), and low-VOC materials. Many of these items have become so routine on green buildings, that it’s easy to understand why many advocates believe any building planned to be green from the start should be able to reach a minimum LEED® Silver level.

Don’t let this statement slight UNO’s admirable commitment to green building. The organization (which represents Chicago-area Hispanics) currently operates five other schools, but all are leased from the Chicago archdiocese – this is the first to be renovated and owned by UNO. As it begins this expansion, UNO has indicated its intent to build all of its own schools green. Given that new Chicago Public Schools are already required to be LEED® certified, let’s hope to see other charter school operators following UNO’s lead.

Like many green schools, there are plans for incorporating environmental lessons into the curriculum, aided by a green roof visible to students. However, because UNO plans to also host many community after-school programs, this building offers an unusual opportunity to educate the parents and other adults in the community on actions they can take to reduce their environmental impact. Again, it’d be nice to see more community-based organizations take advantage of their existing network (and legitimacy) while expanding their message to include the environment.

Other project team members include LEED® and environmental consultant Shaw and commissioning agent dbHMS. Finally, note that this project set a new record for time to permit for a commercial project in the Green Permit Program – 30 calendar days.

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