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Gladstone, N.J. — May 19, 2015 — The Willow School, an independent coeducational elementary and middle school, recently announced the opening of its new Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center, the largest “Living Building” School project in the United States.
The new educational center will be one of the most environmentally sound and sustainable building projects in the world and will create a model learning environment for students.
The 20,000-square-foot, multi-use building is a figurative embodiment of the school’s curriculum and core values. The school is pursuing certification under the Living Building Challenge, regarded as the world’s most rigorous building performance standard.
The Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center includes four middle school classrooms, commercial and teaching kitchens, dining hall, movement/performance arts space, health/wellness area, faculty room, and an energy gallery. Surrounding the building are agricultural gardens, composting areas, and regenerative native landscaping.
“Learning in a Living Building provides an enhanced educational opportunity that is smarter, healthier and better for our students,” said Mark Biedron, co-founder of The Willow School. “Studies have shown that green schools broaden the curriculum, increase student engagement and productivity, and improve academic performance. It’s an ideal learning environment.”
Designed to function as beautifully and elegantly as nature’s architecture, Living Buildings must generate all of their own energy through clean, renewable resources, capture and treat their own water through ecologically sound techniques, and incorporate only nontoxic, appropriately-sourced materials.
Buildings achieve full certification status after meeting all of the performance standards required by the institute after one full year of occupancy. For more information on the Living Building Challenge, click here.
To meet these requirements, and those of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum standards that the project is also pursuing, Willow’s new structure incorporates regenerative systems that are energy efficient, produce more electricity than the building uses, harvest more water than it consumes (enabling it to replenish the local aquifer), and generate no waste that is not recycled for other purposes.
One of the unique, core features of the HWNC is the teaching kitchen and supporting gardens, which will provide opportunities for hands-on learning as children study the agricultural process and sustainable living. The teaching kitchen will also provide an interdisciplinary approach to learning in all subject areas through the “science and art” of cooking: math (weights and measures), science (combinations of ingredients and nutrition), and social studies (cultural cuisine).
For more information, visit www.willowschool.org.