PROJECT: Kensington CAPA LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA FEATURES: LEED Platinum Certified, Greywater System, Green Roof, Geothermal Heating and Cooling, Brownfield Remediation, Low-VOC Building Materials, AIA Top Ten Green Project
BUDGET: $44,000,000.00 DURATION: 12 months

Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts

Constructed as part of a joint venture effort between BSI Construction, LLC and AP Construction, Inc. (AP/BSI a joint venture, LLC), Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts is a turn-key project constructed in response to an RFP to design-build a high school for the School District of Philadelphia.

A major selling point for the School District was the goal to achieve a LEED Gold Certified building at settlement.  To reach this goal, the design team employed the latest sustainable building practices and strategies.  At the conclusion of the project, the Gold Certification target was exceeded and a Platinum rating, the highest possible certification level, was awarded to the school by the United States Green Building Council.  Additionally, the National AIA Committee named the school a Top Ten Green Building for 2012.

Sustainable building strategies including a greywater system, geothermal heating and cooling, green roofs, and sustainable building materials and products were utilized in the design and construction of Kensington CAPA.  The site of the school is a former brownfield which was developed through environmental remediation to achieve Act 2 status.  Design and implementation of a storm water management program, including the use of green roofs, porous paving, and a greywater system, was employed to manage all storm water on site.  Alderson Engineering, Inc., the MEP consultant for the project, designed two 30,000-gallon underground tanks to capture storm water which is then treated for use as non-potable greywater for toilets.  Ninety-six geothermal wells under the on-site athletic practice field were drilled 500’-deep to efficiently heat and cool the building.  Artificial lighting use is reduced through the orientation of the building on the site, the use of high-performance glazing and sunshades, as well as through the use of Solatubes, skylights inserted in the second floor ceiling corridor which transmit sunlight directly into the building.  Green roofs planted with native, maintenance-free species naturally insulate the building and reduce heat island effect.

The joint-venture architectural design team of SMP Architects and SRK Architects made sustainable materials a key feature of the high school.  Cobblestones from the existing site were reused as landscaping pavers.  Many items containing recycled content, from concrete block to cork display boards, are present within the building.  Wheatboard casework and linoleum flooring, two natural rapidly-renewable materials, are seen throughout the building.  Low-VOC finishes were specified for the building to ensure occupants are breathing the cleanest air possible.  The building itself is used as a teaching tool for the students.  A sustainability-focused program was added to the curriculum to educate students on environmental issues, specifically how the various facets of their facility beneficially impact the environment.