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Saugus Middle High School receives green-building award

Saugus Middle High School, which was completed in 2020, was awarded LEED Platinum certification for the building’s sustainable elements. (Courtesy photo)

SAUGUS — Saugus Middle High School has been awarded LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. 

Built by Suffolk Construction Company and designed by HMFH Architects, Inc., this is the first project funded through the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to reach the highest level of LEED certification. 

Working with PMA Consultants — a construction-management consulting firm — HMFH and Suffolk delivered a facility that serves its environment and occupants while realizing the town’s vision for an innovative, climate-resilient and healthy building. 

“I am pleased to share with the community that the Town of Saugus is making its mark in history once again in being the first MSBA project to achieve LEED Platinum certification,” said Town Manager Scott Crabtree. “A special thank you to the project team who helped us attain this amazing rating — PMA Consultants, HMFH Architects, and Suffolk.” 

Key sustainability elements of the building include energy efficiency, water conservation, air quality and ventilation and equity. 

Saugus Middle High School uses a combined heating and power system known as tri-generation to generate electricity on-site, which significantly reduces carbon emissions and eliminates emissions associated with regional-source generation, while utilizing waste heat for space heating, domestic hot-water heating and space cooling. 

Continuously running generators improves resiliency by ensuring emergency systems will be operational when they are needed most.

 In regards to water conservation, three 30,000-gallon underground cisterns collect water for reuse while rain gardens throughout the school’s parking lots filter stormwater runoff from the site and mitigate heat-island effects. 

Combined with the use of low-flow fixtures, these measures reduce the building’s annual water consumption by 45 percent.

For air quality and ventilation, the building provides optimal air quality with rooftop mechanical air-handling units positioned with their intakes facing away from the highway and prevailing winds. 

This allows displacement ventilation systems to distribute clean air throughout the interior, bringing 20 percent more fresh air into the spaces at low velocity without the typical costs and acoustical distractions associated with conventional mechanical systems.

The new school, which was completed in 2020, reflects the town’s vision of innovative, equitable facilities. 

Equity in the school included all-gender toilet facilities conveniently located and used by faculty and students alike. 

Special education spaces feature tunable LED fixtures, giving teachers flexibility to adjust light intensity and color temperature to help modulate behavior and respond to light sensitivity. 

A classroom on the third floor provides a designated space for medically fragile community members with views and access to a rooftop classroom.

“Saugus Middle High School stands as a visible commitment to assuring the next generation of students will be stewards of both their community and their environment,” said a Suffolk representative. “Addition to its LEED Platinum certification, Saugus Middle High School has been recognized by numerous respected awards programs for its success and innovation in both design and construction.” 

Other awards it has been recognized for include Engineering News Record 2021 New England Regional Best Projects – Top K-12 Education Project; Learning by Design 2021 Educational Facilities – Grand Prize Award; and American School & University 2021 Architectural Portfolio Awards – Outstanding Project. 

Allysha Dunnigan can be reached at adunnigan@itemlive.com.

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