Darlington School: Private Boarding School in Georgia Thatcher Hall earns LEED Gold Certification
Darlington School: Private Boarding School in Rome, GA
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Thatcher Hall earns LEED Gold Certification

April 7, 2010 | 909 views

Thatcher Hall, Darlington’s new Middle School facility, has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is the premier program in the nation to certify high-performance green buildings.

“We are so proud to have created a learning environment that is both sustainable and healthy,” said Headmaster Tom Whitworth. “Our commitment to meet LEED standards in the planning, design, construction and operation of this building will pay it forward for years to come as we seek to be good stewards of the environment and our surrounding community.”

LEED certification is awarded based on energy consumption, water management, indoor environmental quality, site planning and material use.

“At Chapman Coyle Chapman, we strongly believe design professionals must take the lead in creating a sustainable and an eco-friendly living environment,” said the building’s architect Mike Mascheri. “We approach every project as a LEED project, whether or not the client is pursuing a certification level. We educate our clients not to base their goals on a particular certification level, but rather to focus on elements which reflect their philosophy and mission as an organization or institution.

“Darlington’s Gold Certification is a testament to the school’s commitment to creating a green campus environment and an educational model for its students. By integrating sustainable features into this facility, faculty and students are able to see how our energy and natural resources can be conserved during everyday life,” Mascheri continued. “This facility exemplifies that a LEED Gold building can blend seamlessly within a traditional-style campus environment, while maintaining the technologies, building materials and design elements necessary for the efficiency and environmental standards required for this certification level. Chapman Coyle Chapman is proud to share this accomplishment with everyone involved; it required a true team approach and 100 percent dedication and commitment by all of those at Darlington School.” 

Thatcher Hall’s mechanical system exceeds the local energy code efficiency requirements by 40 percent. All spaces are day lit to minimize the need for artificial lighting, thus reducing energy consumption. Along the same lines, motion sensors are utilized in many rooms and photocells control lighting in the classrooms, automatically turning off lights when the daylight reaches a level equal to that of the light fixture.

Additionally, to conserve water all plumbing fixtures and kitchen equipment are low-flow and many are also motion controlled. To preserve a healthy air quality, interior finishes and materials are low-VOC products to minimize off-gassing, and environmentally friendly cleansers are used by Darlington’s housekeeping staff. Probably most remarkable, 90 percent of all construction waste was recycled.

“Though there is a bit of a cost increase involved in constructing a LEED building, Darlington’s Board of Trustees strongly agrees that the long-term stewardship to the environment made possible by this facility far outweighs the extra cost,” said Bill Watters (’75), chairman of the Facilities Committee of the Board of Trustees. “Mike Mascheri did a fantastic job designing a green building that will meet the school’s needs for years to come, and R.J. Griffin & Co., led by Pat Arrington (’79), did a remarkable job managing the construction phase. The work site was totally different than that of anything we have ever built at Darlington. It was clean from the beginning to the end, and there was very little waste.

“Achieving Gold Certification is very exciting for Darlington,” Watters continued. “We are among the first in the area to build an educational facility that meets LEED requirements. Our new Middle School has set a new standard for Darlington as well as the City of Rome. We are leading the way to the future.”

Thatcher Hall is a 57,000-square-foot facility that features 18 classrooms, a wireless media center, a student commons, band and choral rooms, and a spacious assembly hall for gathering and dining.