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Harley School breaks ground on $3 million 'living building'

By NATE DOUGHERTY - 11/26/2012 3:36:04 PM

The Harley School broke ground Monday on a $3 million “living building” that will be dedicated to environmental education and sustainability, one that school officials say is the first of its kind in the country.

The building, known as Chesonis Commons, will be the first kindergarten through grade 12 education space in the country to offer students multiple dimensions of education around creating a sustainable future, Harley officials said.

The 14,000-square-foot structure is referred to as a “living building” because it will generate its own energy, heat and cool with renewable non-toxic resources, capture and use water and carbon in its greenhouse, and operate efficiently using students as the “brains” or controls for managing its operations, school officials added.

The $3 million project was funded by a $1 million lead gift from the Chesonis Family Foundation, as well as fundraising and donations to the Harley School.

“When complete, Chesonis Commons will support a rich social curriculum that puts our students in charge of resource use and waste production. Students in the building will work toward a net-zero operation in energy, water, and carbon dioxide,” said Valerie Myntti, Harley interim head of school. “We’ll be able to offer our students a unique and creative educational experience that challenges them to think differently about science and our environment as a whole. This is an experience they won’t get anywhere else in our region.”

Chesonis Commons will also be home to the Briggs Center for Civic Engagement, Center for Mindfulness and Empathy Education and a state-of-the-art science center, school officials added.
 
The project is expected to be completed by September 2013.

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