New Edgewood High on cutting edge of green technology

Visitors to the new Edgewood High School at its upcoming open house events should take note not only of the size of the building, but also its accessibility and environmental efficiency.

According to district spokesman John Thomas, the new school has 80 instructional rooms spread out over 215,000 square feet, about 50,000 square feet larger than the former high school, which will become a middle school.

Having come near the end of a decade of new school construction in Butler County, the building has many of the same features that have become standard in new school construction.

In addition to interactive white boards and projectors in each classroom, the floors are made of a material that doesn’t need to be waxed, for instance, and the front door entrance incorporates the latest security features.

“We were approved to have an auxiliary gym, but we did it in such a way that it saved us $2 million in the construction,” Thomas said. “With those savings we were able to add more classrooms.”

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Instead of creating a separate room, however, the auxiliary gym is adjacent to the main gym, but on an upper level and separated by a curtain that can be drawn back.

The main gymnasium, which will seat around 1,700 people, features a four-sided square scoreboard above and a floor painted by art teacher Todd Apgar that depicts “The Edge of the Woods,” a reference to the origin of the district’s name, Thomas said.

According to Mike Dingeldein of SHP Leading Design, the architectural firm that created the design, the building is energy-efficient in a number of areas, beginning with the orientation of the building to face north and south to avoid direct sunlight, a geothermal heating and cooling system and a tight building envelope with triple-paned windows and insulation.

“Edgewood will certainly see a reduction in their utility bills,” Project Manager Jeffrey Sackenheim said. “Based upon computer modeling and simulations, these strategies are targeted to provide a 48 percent energy-use reduction over baseline standards and a 40 percent water-use reduction.”

The most unique aspect of the building, however, comes from the fact that it sits on top of a very porous part of the aquifer and so has a strenuous water control, Dingeldein said, created in cooperation with the Butler County Soil and Water Conservation District and Miller Brewery.

“In most areas, it takes 180 days for rainwater to reach the aquifer, and by that time it is adequately filtered through the soil,” Dingeldein said. “On this site, however, it only takes 30 days rainwater to reach the aquifer.”

So the landscape design had to insure that none of the water runs off the property, but is retained and filtered on-site and percolates a mere 20 feet down into the aquifer to make sure it is as clean as possible.

“It was designed with a lot of community input, so that helps make it unique,” Dingeldein said. “Everyone was very interested in how the public uses the building.”

There are three distinct entrances to the building. The main entrance that faces Trenton Road, a student entrance to the rear and an events entrance that faces Busenbark Road.

“The number one way that most people visit the school is through sports activities,” Dingeldein said. “So while each entrance is distinctive, they all connect in the same floor space.”

There’s no auditorium because the requirements of the state funding was that the money would go toward instructional space, so many events will still take place in the auditorium at what is now Edgewood Middle School, but there is a lecture room.

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