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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Willow School To Break Ground on One of the Largest Living Building Challenge Projects in the World

The Willow School, an independent co-educational elementary school, announces the Groundbreaking Ceremony for its new Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center, a prospective Living Building ChallengeSM project that is designed to become one of the world’s greenest certified buildings. The ceremony will take place on Earth Day, April 22 at 8:15 a.m. on the school’s campus at 1150 Pottersville Road.  Students will lead the charge as they break ground for the new $6.4 million, 20,000-square-foot educational building that is planned to have net-zero impact on the environment.   Speakers will include Head of School, Kate Burke Walsh, and Willow School Co-founder Mark Biedron.

“The Willow School has taken the Living Building Challenge, and we’re excited to help raise the bar on sustainability while simultaneously creating an environment that is healthier and more conducive to learning for our students,” said Willow School Co-founder Mark Biedron. “We hope our new Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center will be a model for both public and private educational institutions.”

The Living Building Challenge is widely regarded as the world’s most rigorous green building performance standard. According to the International Living Future Institute, a Living Building must generate all of its own energy through clean, renewable resources; capture and treat its own water through ecologically sound techniques; incorporate only nontoxic, appropriately sourced materials; and operate efficiently and for maximum beauty. Buildings achieve “Living” status after meeting all of the performance standards required by the Institute after one full year of operation. For more information on the Living Building Challenge, visit: .

To meet these requirements, and those of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Willow’s new structure will possess regenerative systems and characteristics that will benefit the environment. It will be super-efficient, produce more solar energy than it uses, harvest more water than it consumes, and generate no waste that is not recycled for other purposes. The building is slated for completion in January, 2014. 

“The new Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center will allow Willow to expand, broaden and strengthen Willow’s educational curriculum while welcoming more students,” said Head of School Kate Burke Walsh. Features of the new building will include commercial and teaching kitchens, dining hall, movement and performing arts space, and four large middle school classrooms.To date, Willow has raised $5.8 million toward its $7 million Capital Campaign for the new building, endowment and scholarships. Contributions have come from parents, trustees, foundations and friends of Willow.

Since its establishment in 2002, Willow has served as a national leader in sustainability and environmental stewardship. Its Schoolhouse classroom building was the first independent school structure in the U.S. to achieve USGBC LEED Gold certification in 2002. National Geographic’s Green Guide ranked Willow the second greenest school in the nation in 2006. Willow’s second construction project, the Barn, became one of only seven other structures in the nation to receive LEED Platinum status in 2007.  In 2012, Willow was awarded the Green Ribbon School Award by the U.S. Department of Education. 

The Willow School, located on 34 acres in Gladstone, N.J., is a small, independent coeducational day school for students in preschool through eighth grade. The school is committed to combining academic excellence with the joy of learning and to experiencing the wonder of the natural world. The Willow School education fosters independent thinking, creativity, responsibility and integrity. Visit:  for more information.

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