Student Article: The Environmental Sustainability of our New Building

The Environmental Sustainability of our New Building
by Grace Pacelle • Class of 2017

There’s no doubt that humans are injuring the earth, and many wonder how much longer the earth can stand human impact. The need for sustainable and energy efficient buildings is becoming essential. Thankfully, Concord Carlisle High School’s new building has taken steps to become one of the most environmentally friendly public schools in Massachusetts.

The building requires significantly less energy than required by the old building. When walking inside, one quickly notices the new building’s airy and bright feel. In order to maximize sun exposure, the building is oriented along its east-west axis. Sunshades control the lighting in the classrooms, while light fixtures hang from the ceiling above. Photo sensors dim or brighten the lights, depending on how much natural light is available at the moment. The three large atriums, located above the third floor’s breakout spaces, let in natural light that fills the hallways and classrooms. Ultimately, the school uses thousands fewer kilowatt hours of electricity than was used by the old school building by utilizing natural light and adopting light usage regulation technology. The building has also committed to Energy Star efficient appliances, which greatly reduces energy usage. The building’s predicted energy use is 18-37% less than that of the old school building.

The building’s multi-story design is also environmentally friendly. The compact new building has a building footprint–the area of ground occupied by the building– significantly smaller than that of the old school building. This allows for storm water management, space for playing fields, and the flow of pedestrians and vehicles. During the building and landscaping of the building, no outside soil was brought on site, decreasing impurities introduced into the local environment.

The air quality in the new building far exceeds that of the old building. 100% fresh air is silently, constantly circulated into the classrooms. The building has an excellent building envelope– the physical separator between the inside and outside of the building– to keep heat in, and this decreases energy needed to control air temperature. To further boost heat insulation, heat is captured in a turbine system on the roof.

The building also has many other sustainable features. The building is constructed with materials of high recycled content, lessening the demand from landfills. In bathrooms, paper towel waste is reduced with the installation of hand dryers. CCHS uses water efficient appliances in the bathrooms, labs, classrooms, and the kitchen, reducing water use by 20% compared to the old school. Hydration stations have been installed throughout the building that provide an easy way to fill reusable water bottles, decreasing plastic water bottle waste.

The new building’s many energy efficient and sustainable features are part of what makes our school exceptional. While most architects rarely say a building could last more than 50 years, CCHS’s new building is expected to last well beyond that. Thanks to the many remarkable construction workers, architects, committee members, and others, CCHS will be reducing waste and saving money, water, and energy for a long time to come.

To learn more about the CCHS Building Committee’s sustainability efforts, visit, email, or view the touch screen display in the lobby of CCHS.

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Thoughts on our architect’s exceptional performance

7 October, 2015


Now that the summer construction season is over and the Concord Carlisle Regional High School has once again successfully opened its doors for classes, I wanted to reflect upon the project design and execution process. In particular, I wanted to formalize my thoughts on how OMR performed for the project.

As you know, I was appointed Chairman of the Regional High School Building Committee at a point where the confidence in the entire project Teams’ ability to deliver the program was at a low point. When you and I discussed the situation, I indicated to you that OMR was in control of the design process. And while I was confident that the entire team would ultimately deliver on the promise to the Towns, I said the project history that would ultimately be written about how OMR controlled and executed on the design process was in your hands from that point forward.

How far the project has come since then! By any measure, the Concord Carlisle Regional High School project has been designed, built and commissioned in an extraordinary manner.

The program was executed on our time scale, within our approved budget, and in accordance with our

MSBA Project Funding Agreement. The opening of the school met with nothing but exceptionally positive feedback on the quality of the building – a direct reflection of your design.

I do not toss out the subjective terms, “exceptional”, extraordinary” in a casual manner. Those words need to hold their meaning and in this case, OMR has earned the full measure ofthose terms. But I think it is also important to point out some objective measures of the project’s design success.

I have been in the design and construction business for over 40 years, and I know that the following objective measures are indicative of a superior performance. I am proud to highlight these measures for you :

25% Requests for Information (RFI) are a measure of how well design documents indicate the details and coordinate the elements in a design. A large number of RFls on a project are indicative of project where the Contractor and Trade Contractors are unable to understand the design intent. For CCHS, the project had 25% of the number of RFls that were experienced on three recent and similar-sized high school projects. Another way to look at this number is that OMR’s documents were better coordinated and thought through by a factor of 4X. In my experience in commercial construction, this is an extremely low number of RFIS and the low number verifies the accuracy and effectiveness of the OMR design.

2.43% Change orders are a measure of the deviations that a project encounters from the time of the bids to the time of completion . There are many reasons that change orders happen. But for the Concord Carlisle Regional High School project, the total percentage of change orders at the time that the High School was occupied in April was 2.43% of the original GMP value. This measure is also very low, but being low is a very good measurement. It means that we, as a coordinated Team, designed what needed to be built and we executed to those specific designs. OMR should feel that their designs were right on target and responsive to the Ed Spec and overall program goals. I have been associated with few projects that were conceived and ultimately delivered so close to the original program goals and budget.

.43% As projects are built and change orders accrue, project accounting breaks the change orders down by categories and attribute the cause of the change to those line items. For the CCHS project, we attributed the changes to the following items: Design Issues, New Scope by Building Committee, Differing Conditions, 3rd Party Scope Additions, and Miscellaneous. For CCHS, the number of “Design Issues” totaled about four tenths of one percent of the original GMP number. This number is unprecedented in my experience and is, perhaps, the greatest indicator of a complete and well coordinated project design.

Michael, you and your entire team are to be congratulated on the success of the project, and specifically, how well the design team did their jobs. I am extremely proud of the efforts the OMR put forth on the job and the results (and these measures) only serve to reinforce this excellence.

In summary, I would be honored, if needed, to speak to any of OMR’s future customers on your behalf and to have an opportunity to tell them directly how OMR contributed to the Concord Carlisle project success.

Best Regards,

Stanley H. Durlacher
Concord Carlisle Regional High School
Building Committee

p.s. – Michael, I would be remiss if I did not take the time to point out two of your staff that contributed to our success in such an extraordinary way. Lisa Pecora Ryan and James Forrest each performed in such a key role and went above and beyond in their caring and level of effort for the benefit of our project. Please pass along this compliment to them as it comes from not only me, but the entire Building Committee, School Administration, KVA and Turner, as well.

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Phase 2: Demolition of old building underway

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First Day In The New Building


Superintendent Rigby waiting to greet student on the first day in the new building


Buses arriving in the new loop road


Students arriving for the first day of classes in the new building


Student immediately discover the new gathering spaces in the Learning Commons


Students attend the first all-school assembly in the new building


The first all-school assembly and opening ceremony

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Fitness Center equipment is being installed today!

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Furniture is arriving at the new school!

Neither sleet nor (many feet of) snow could slow the arrival of our furniture!  A huge thank you to Brian Schlegel and the School District custodial crew for the early morning work to uncover the loading dock.  Deliveries will be continual from now though March as we get ready for our April move-in.

The stage has become the staging area.

The stage has become the staging area.

Classroom chairs and stools

Classroom chairs and stools

Installation team assembling the student desks

Installation team assembling the student desks

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Photos of the new CCHS 2-16-15

This gallery contains 7 photos.

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