The Recession prescribed stress tests for our public educational system.  Municipalities across the nation are identifying schools’ strengths and weaknesses.  Education decision makers in pre-K to 12 are focusing on design guidelines and building strategies that create compelling, functional, and innovative learning environments on a budget. Connecticut has a unique reimbursable classification know as Renovate-as-New that requires design teams to certify that all building systems have an additional life span of 20 years.  RegionalSchool District 18 in Lyme/Old Lyme, Connecticut demonstrates the success of the Renovate-as-New program and gained $4 million in reimbursements on a $40 million project.

Region 18 and the design team embarked on a major renovation of their existing 30-year-old, 108,000 square-foot high school in 2006.  As one of the first projects in Connecticut required to meet sustainability goals it became an experimental model to explore ideas and cost impacts for meeting LEED Silver requirements.  Region 18 looked at the mandates for sustainable design coupled with the degree to which the building was being renovated and determined that it was in their best interest to pursue that reimbursement category.  A comprehensive program that balanced between energy conservation, Green product design, and long-term sustainable goals was established.

Beyond the initial savings associated with reusing the existing building, Lyme/Old Lyme reaped additional benefits from a Geo-thermal system.  The system has a 50-year life expectancy so Region 18 can anticipate 40 years of reduced energy costs associated with this decision.  This coupled with the myriad of additional energy savings measures, such as day light harvesting, LED site lighting, increased wall, window and roof performance, and quality eco-friendly materials will result in significant reductions in overall energy usage.

The new 125,819 square-foot design resulted in a quality 21st century learning environment that features:

• unified exterior appearance
• new attractive and secure main entry
• new administrative and guidance offices on each side of main entry
• open commons for dining, gatherings, meetings, and exhibits
• modernized core spaces to meet high standards for performance, athletic, and media/collaborating needs
• larger, acoustically-separated, well-lit classrooms and labs
• enhanced music, tech ed and art spaces
• improved vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow
• renovated sports fields

This project earned the 2014 AIA RI Merit Award.