Energy efficiency: what’s running BHS’s new building?

Ayden Flanigan

In 2012 Burlington schools commissioned Encore Renewable Energy, a clean energy company located in Burlington, to design and install solar panels on both Burlington High School (BHS) and C.P. Smith Elementary School. Terry Bailey, Director of Operations for Burlington Schools in 2012, said that the solar installation “Provides an important message to the public and the students that our community is preparing for the future with renewable energy.”

While this might not have a tangible difference for many of the students attending these schools, it explicitly showed what the city of Burlington was heading toward. Four years later, in 2016, Burlington became the first city in America to be run on all renewable energy. `

With the current “ReEnvisioning” plans to build new and renovate the BHS buildings also come plans to use more modern design principles and follow the current energy code.

“There are lots of issues,” Burlington School District’s (BSD) Director of Building Services, Marty Spaulding, said about the current campus. “The windows don’t meet the current energy code. The insulation in the walls doesn’t meet the current energy code. There is certainly a lot of fluorescent lighting that could be upgraded to LED lighting. Lots of areas for improvement that will be incorporated into the project.”

The Extensive CHPS Scoresheet the ReEnvisioning Team is Following

While there isn’t a green mandate for the new BHS building, the project team is following a Collaborative for High-Performance Schools (CHPS) criteria program. CHPS is a program started in 1999 that focuses on fostering energy efficiency in schools across the country. It focuses on pushing schools to install better lighting, facilitate clean air, and create comfortable classrooms so that kids can potentially learn better.

The CHPS criteria works on an extensive, four-page scoresheet that lays out what the design team is striving to achieve with the new school- one of the categories being exterior and interior materials. Though primarily made of brick, the new school will be using some newer materials to help achieve modern energy code.

“There could be a mix of different materials, such as insulated metal panels,” Spaulding said. “[The] windows will likely be triple glazed so a lot more energy efficient. Most of all, there will be a lot better insulation in the buildings’ exterior walls.”

Insulation seems to be a major focus of the project. While much of the focus on the new building could be directed towards the demolishment of C, D, (and possibly E) buildings, the major undertaking for the project is the renovation of the A and B buildings.

Proposed Site Plan for BHS ReEnvisioning Project

“We’re wrapping new construction almost completely around the entire [A] building.

That new building envelope will meet today’s energy code requirements,” Spaulding said. “The exterior walls such as [outside] B building, will remain [and] will be improved [on the] inside of the building.”

While Spaulding sees no immediate concerns in the process of designing the new building, he said that the main drive of the project right now is to enhance learning opportunities through design.

“[We are] building the architectural floor plans to meet the school program needs. Then we’ll be sharing that information with our mechanical and electrical engineers to build in those systems, but we haven’t really gotten to that point yet. It’ll be coming soon.”