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Science Building Receives LEED Gold Certification

German School in Potomac earns environmental praise.

The German School's science building

The German School's science building Photo Contributed

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The German School’s green roof

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Waldemar Gries, Head of School for the German School, Washington and Rachel Gutter.

“It is important to pass on the lesson of caring for our environment to our young people,” said Waldemar Gries, Head of School for the German School, Washington, located on Chateau Drive in Potomac.

This lesson is exemplified for German School students as they attend their classes in chemistry, physics, biology and general science in the new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified building recently built on their campus. Each classroom features state-of-the-art science equipment — and also serves as an example to students of the finest in the design, construction and operation of a high performance green building.

The German School was recently awarded the LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for the ecological construction of this Science Building, designed by architectural firm Geier Brown Renfrow of Alexandria, Va. The LEED certification was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community. These features include a green roof, rain screen façade, innovative lighting solutions, occupancy sensors, water conservation, storm-water use and use of recycled materials.

The green roof was designed so that several layers of materials on the roof will store rainwater used for carefully selected low maintenance plants which grow on the top layer of the roof. This reduces storm-water run-off and provides a habitat for wildlife.

Many innovative solutions brought about energy savings by reducing heating and air conditioning costs and conserving electricity. The rain-screen façade creates a comfortable ambient climate and protects the building against harsh weather conditions. Many lighting solutions are used throughout the building to prevent unwanted direct sunlight from entering the classrooms. In addition, each room contains occupancy sensors which allow light switches to automatically turn off when a room is not occupied. A timer also controls lights for after-hours shut-off. Other ecological features include dual flush toilets and waterless urinals to conserve water. Recycled materials were used throughout the building, reducing waste, landfill use and contributing to a healthy interior environment.

By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community. “Buildings are a prime example of how human systems integrate with natural systems,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO & founding chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The German School Washington Science Building project efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come.”

Head of School Gries explains the impact of this award: “Achieving Gold LEED certification represents a significant accomplishment for our school. It is the recognition of our efforts to create a healthy, productive and state-of-the-art learning environment for our students, one that is not only less costly to operate and maintain, but also considerable reduces our environmental footprint.

“We are especially proud of this project as the German School Washington D.C. is the first German School in North America to be awarded LEED Gold status. This achievement is the culmination of a community-wide effort, and I applaud everyone who had a part in its creation.”

The official plaque ceremony occurred May 8. To learn more about the certification, contact Beate Mahious, communications director at bmahious@dswash.org.