Lyme-Old Lyme High School

Regional School District 18 and the NCA design team embarked on a $47,900,000 major renovation of the district’s existing 30-year-old, 108,000 square-foot high school at a time when educational decision makers were focusing on design guidelines and building strategies to create compelling, functional, and innovative learning environments on a budget. The original building consisted of two separate buildings connected by a bridge. With administrative services on an upper level, a secure entry was difficult to maintain. The entire upper floor of the two-story structure was clad in an aging fabricated metal panel.

A consensus was reached with the region’s member communities of Lyme and Old Lyme to authorize design of an addition and renovation scheme. It created a new secure and identifiable main entry, a dynamic student commons in the former exterior space between the buildings, and totally renovated the existing buildings to the statutory requirements of “Renovate-as-New.”

As one of the first projects in Connecticut required to meet new sustainability goals, it became an experimental model to explore ideas and cost impacts for meeting high performance building standards. Beyond the initial savings associated with reusing the existing building, the communities reaped additional benefits from a new 120-well geothermal system. While the energy system added about 2% to the overall cost, it will pay itself off in six years and has a fifty-year life span resulting in significant energy cost savings. This coupled with the myriad of additional energy savings measures, such as daylight harvesting, LED site lighting, increased wall, window and roof thermal performance, and quality eco-friendly materials results in significant reductions in overall energy usage. The building achieved a LEED Gold Certification from the USGBC.

The completely transformed, resulting 125,819 square-foot high school building offers Lyme and Old Lyme with a dynamic, award-wining 21st century learning environment, which ultimately cost less than approved bond amount, and continues to offer cost-savings via the measures of energy-efficiency and sustainability.