Sidwell Friends School. Image from Natural Systems International.
A little noted fact about Sidwell Friends, the Obama family’s choice of school for Malia and Sasha: It’s amazingly green! Designed by Kieran Timberlake Associates, this LEED Platinum middle school is part of the Sidwell Friends School campus. Among the school’s many green features:
- Local materials – 78% sourced within 500 miles to reduce transport costs
- Water efficient landscaping – local vegetation reduces need for irrigation, and allows reestablishment of native ecological pathways
- Recycled Materials – 11% + Forest Stewardship Council certified wood
- Passive solar design – 60% energy reduction + solar panels for electricity generation
- Green roof and natural ventilation – for health, energy, stormwater, and ecological benefits
- And best of all, a constructed wetland that treats 100% of the school’s wastewater before returning it to the school for toilet flushing.
This is a boon for those of us seeking to sell our clients on features such as constructed wetlands, solar power etc. If they are good enough and safe enough for our first daughters, they are good enough for any facility.
Of course, once one starts to look at the many studies done on green schools and realizes the many benefits (increased test scores, decreased class disruption, increased teacher productivity, decreased infrastructure cost, etc. etc.), one starts to wonder why one WOULDN’T build this way. To build a school that isn’t green and deprive the next 25 to 50 years of kids that will be taught in the building’s lifetime these many benefits is borderline negligent.
That the Obama’s have chosen to have their daughters educated in these cutting edge green facilities has largely stayed under the radar (I only just realized myself). While the green features of the school were probably not their deciding factor, it certainly conveys a trust in the systems and a recognition of their many benefits.