|Green Issues in Andover|
Various concerns and projects concerned citizens are working toward
Plans For The New Sustainable Bancroft School
The new Bancroft didn’t start out as a green project; it was born of the very real need to replace a structurally deficient building that has reached the end of its life span--one that, in recent years, has cost Andover millions of dollars to maintain. Now, as the planning process reaches fruition, a green project is precisely what the new Bancroft has become. The reason is simple: building a school with sustainable features makes fiscal and educational sense.
Fiscally, the logic is clear: our funding partner--the Massachusetts School Building Authority--will reimburse the town’s construction costs at a higher level if we include enough sustainable features in the new school’s design. And going forward, a green school will be more energy efficient, therefore more cost effective to run. What may not be so obvious is the impact a green school can have on education and learning outcomes. While it stands to reason that insufficient lighting, temperature fluctuations, and inadequate ventilation make for a poor working environment, there is now solid evidence to support the fact that school designs that maximize the use of natural light, proper ventilation, effective acoustics, and nontoxic, low-emitting materials lead not just to healthier classrooms, but to better learning.
Andover won’t be the first town to build a green school; over the last year, members of the School Committee, School Building Committee, administrators, parents, teachers, and staff have visited schools throughout eastern Massachusetts to observe a variety of best building practices. Along the way, we’ve seen examples of how sustainability can be incorporated into both school design and student learning, from a wind turbine in Fall River to light shelves designed to capture sunlight in Concord to a recycling and composting center in Manchester-Essex. We’ve also listened to the ideas of the many Andover residents who attended last June’s “Green Charrette,” an event led by the architects who are designing our new school.
Looking ahead, we are excited that a large number of sustainable elements are slated to be a part of the new Bancroft; these include lighting, shading, ventilation, heating, and rainwater harvesting, as well as demonstration projects for solar and wind energy. Real-time data about energy consumption from a variety of these sources will be made visible in the school lobby, and can be incorporated into classroom instruction to help both our students and the town learn more about practical approaches to lowering costs, improving education and helping the environment. Not so long ago, building these kinds of features into a school would have been wishful thinking; now, not only are they possible, they are clearly compelling choices--both fiscally and educationally. We look forward to sharing more about the new Sustainable Bancroft with the Andover community this fall.
Annie Gilbert Andover School Building Committee