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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Willow School’s Planned Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center to Meet Rigorous Green Building Standards

The Willow School, an independent co-educational elementary schoolin Gladstone known for its commitment to sustainability, recently broke ground for its 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 new $6.4 million, 20,000-square-foot educational building is designed to have net-zero impact on the environment.  Features of the new building will include commercial and teaching kitchens, a dining hall, movement and performing arts space, and four large middle school classrooms. 

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.

To meet these requirements, and those of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Willow’s new structure will possess regenerative systems and characteristics to 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. 

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 United States to achieve USGBC LEED Gold certification.National Geographic’s Green Guide ranked Willow the second greenest school in the nation in 2006.And in 2012, Willow was awarded the Green Ribbon School Award by the U.S. Department of Education. 

“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.” 

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