New school will have ecological standards, not certification

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County School Board’s building committee discussed pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the middle school under development at a Tuesday afternoon meeting.

Assistant Superintendent for Administration Melody Sheppard told those at the meeting that in order to hang a LEED certification plaque on the school’s wall, $60,000 would need to be budgeted to hire a commissioner. The plaque and certification wouldn’t qualify the school for any kind of grant or additional funding.

“Nobody writes you a check, nobody’s going to give you any cash,” said County Administrator Douglas Stanley. “You can design it with the LEED, but the actual component of putting the plaque on the wall doesn’t get you anything.”

The U.S. Green Building Council offers LEED certifications at various levels from plain certification up through platinum level. Each level is determined by a point system derived from credits approved in the application and review process. Stanley said that the schools had chosen the silver level (50 to 59 points achieved) to balance the cost of qualifying for those credits with their benefits.

Elsewhere in the county, Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail holds silver LEED certification and the Warren County Public Safety Building holds gold certification. When the USGBC released a list of leading states for green buildings last spring, the Public Safety Building received commendation for being one of Virginia’s top green projects.

All those who spoke about the certification at the building committee meeting said they would rather the school spend that $60,000 on other items since there would be no benefit to the certification besides “bragging rights.”

Regardless of whether the School Board hires a commissioner or not, the school will be up to LEED silver standards. Those standards will include building features like energy-efficient lighting, recycling standards and water conservancy measures in low-flush toilets.

Simply building the school to those standards was enough for the building committee, as the school will still be able to reap the benefits of lower energy cost and higher efficiency.

“We do want to build buildings that are environmentally sound,” Superintendent Gregory Drescher said after the meeting.

Other Warren County school buildings could not have applied for certification since LEED for Schools launched in 2007 and cannot be applied retrospectively.

The last thing the School Board is waiting on to begin construction of the new school is receiving a permit from the Department of Environmental Quality for water and sewer configuration, but Drescher and Sheppard estimated that they will receive that permit and look into breaking ground within about two weeks.

Drescher will request special permission from the town managers for general contractor Howard Shockey & Sons to work on the school from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays so that a fair portion of construction can be completed before winter.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com