Washington, D.C.’s Dunbar High School recently earned LEED Platinum certification with a score of 91 points out of a 100—making the 280,000-square-foot building the highest-scoring school in the world certified under USGBC’s LEED for Schools-New Construction system. Designed by Perkins Eastman and Moody Nolan, the high-performance school incorporates many sustainable technologies, including D.C.’s largest geothermal energy system.
Located a few streets down from the U.S. Capitol, the historic Dunbar High School was founded in 1870 as the nation’s first public high school for African Americans. The school was partially demolished in 1977; however, Perkins Eastman used the original building as inspiration for the new design. The new, award-winning school building opened to students in 2013.
“Dunbar’s LEED Platinum achievement is a testament to the power of vision and dedication to create a truly sustainable high-performance learning environment,” says Sean O’Donnell AIA, LEED AP, Principal-in-Charge of the project and the leader of Perkins Eastman’s K-12 practice area. “In the same year that the school has been certified Platinum, it has also posted the highest standardized test score gains in the entire city—this after only one year in the building. I believe that innovative design has created a synergy with the school’s educational transformation initiatives that is resulting in more successful educational outcomes for the students.”
The new campus comprises many sustainable design attributes, which include: a 482 kW photovoltaic array that can generate enough energy on a sunny summer day to power all classroom lights for eight hours; the largest geothermal system in D.C.; 6,152-square-feet of rain gardens; passive design strategies to maximize natural lighting and minimize solar heat gain; energy efficient low-E glass and low-VOC materials; sustainably harvested wood; 95-percent construction waste diversion; and two 20,000-gallon cisterns and low-flow fixtures to save over 1.4 million gallons of potable water a year.
Images via Perkins Eastman, © Joseph Romeo