Opening game at the Putney School Fieldhouse. Photo courtesy of the Putney School.

Opening game at the Putney School Fieldhouse. Photo courtesy of the Putney School.

Publishers note: This post is being republished to correct a broken link

Here’s an interesting article from Athletic Business regarding the Putney School Fieldhouse in Vermont. This project achieved LEED Platinum status, and is the first secondary school building to generate more energy than it consumes. Our dealer, Lajeunesse Interiors, provided and installed Draper Basketball Backstops, Top Roll Gymnasium Divider Curtain and Volleyball Equipment for this project. We were delighted to find it on the cover of the magazine’s July issue.

Net-Zero Field House Is a Classroom and a Money Maker for The Putney School

The Putney School, a private, progressive secondary school in southeastern Vermont, sits on 500 acres that include a dairy farm, stands of sugar maples, vegetable gardens and hay fields. The farm is a laboratory, if you will, or a classroom — all of the school’s 220 students will work there for at least one trimester during their time at the school — but it is also deeply symbolic of the central position in the curriculum given to what the school calls “the dignity and relevance of physical work.”

Over the years following the school’s 1935 founding, “sustainability” was a concept that was primarily limited to the farm itself. Students in the dish washing crew oversaw the collection of table scraps for feeding the pigs and composting, the barn crew collected manure from the troughs to be spread in the fields, and wood selectively harvested from school grounds was taken to the on-site sawmill for use in building and arts projects. At the end of the day, the students (including this author, a 1979 graduate) returned to their dorms, many of which were converted barns and out-buildings that featured overloaded electrical systems, decades-old radiators and little to no insulation.

But the school’s newest building is changing all that. The Putney Field House, which opened in October 2009 (and achieved LEED Platinum status this May), is a laboratory and classroom, and is deeply symbolic of the school’s renewed commitment to full sustainability on its campus. It’s actually more than that — as the nation’s first secondary school building to generate more energy than it consumes, the field house is being seen as the (presumably, compact fluorescent) light that will illuminate the road ahead for other schools and architects.

“The goal was for it not just to be for this school,” says Randy Smith, Putney’s business manager. “The kids who graduated this year will go off to college, and colleges are big on saying to constituents and students, ‘We’re going to build a dorm or a field house or dining hall, and we’d like your input.’ We’ve sent off a group of students who, when that happens, can say, ‘We’d like it to be net-zero.’ And when the school says that’s too expensive, they can say, ‘Oh no, it’s not, and I know where you can go to find that out.'”

Among the false assumptions likely to be made about the $5.1 million, 16,800-square-foot field house is that its net-zero operability is made possible by its small size — or by money. On the contrary, Smith says, “There’s nothing fancy or complicated about what we did. We just did more of some things, like insulation, and made sure that tolerances were much better than they would be if it were a code building. Just getting the insulation and siding right was 60 percent of the battle.”

Danielle Petter, research director at Waitsfield, Vt.-based Maclay Architects (she’s currently at work on Putney’s campus-wide master plan), confirms Smith’s assessment, laying out the net-zero particulars in five areas:

You can read the rest of the article, written by Athletic Business editor Andrew Cohen, here:

The website for the fieldhouse, including a photo tour, can be seen here:


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