WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Suffolk Construction announced that Plumosa School of the Arts has been awarded LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED rating-system certifications are awarded to projects based on performance and energy usage, sustainable features, innovative design for new or existing buildings and other green criteria. Plumosa, located in Delray Beach, is one of the first elementary schools in South Florida with a dedicated curriculum for the Arts. The project built for the School District of Palm Beach County, included the renovation and addition to the existing Atlantic High School campus. The new 92,000 square foot 704-station elementary school included extensive modernization and preservation planning of the 640-seat auditorium. Through an intensive team effort, the project which wasn’t originally designated for certification, earned the impressive level of LEED Gold certification. During the project planning and design stages, the School District had mandated all projects moving forward would be required to apply for LEED Silver. So Suffolk Construction, along with the design team of Tercilla Courtemanche Architects, reviewed the project and the traditional USGBC point system for opportunities to create sustainable strategies for the project. Some of the elements implemented included low-flow plumbing and motion light sensors throughout reducing water usage and creating energy savings. Since the project was located on such a large site, the team chose specific indigenous plants and grasses in the landscape that didn’t require irrigation; thus saving water usage. Other areas that increased the project’s performance included that fact it was developed on a Brownfield site; which enabled the use of a site which in the past would have been overlooked. Through shared parking with the adjacent City of Delray Swimming Complex the Project Team minimized adding parking spaces which helps to reduce the island heat effect created from asphalted parking areas.
The School District and the faculty at Plumosa, through their dedication to sustainability, created a ‘green’ curriculum to give students a better understanding of the green ideas that improve the performance of their own school. Since Plumosa is a school of the arts, their green curriculum also incorporates art education as best exemplified in the Teaching Garden. The garden, a miniature version of the school with its different buildings and structures, is oriented in the same direction as the actual school. The students can interact with the garden structure to learn about how orientation of the building can be affected by the sun; how a cistern works; scale and placement, and impact of native plants and shrubbery.