Among our highest goals, aspirations and values are designing and building projects with significance to the central Minnesota area in an effort to positively impact our community for generations to come. In fact, our most notable successes have been in serving our community. For us, it’s more a matter of stewardship than of giving back. We recognize that not only are our communities worth caring for and preserving, but that in order to prepare for the future we must continue to foster a culture of community – and a sustainable one. We were excited to be part of the Kennedy Community School construction project and are very proud of the result.
For many years, Kennedy School housed approximately 250 students in various grade configurations from K-6, to K-4, adding Pre-K, to then being PreK-6. As the town of St. Joseph grew, so did the student population at Kennedy Elementary. By 2005, four portable classrooms had been added. But by 2006, it became evident that the school could no longer house the now 450 students.
At that time, plans were underway to purchase land and get approval for a bond referendum. Roughly 72 acres were purchased about a mile outside of St. Joseph, and work began to convince the voters of School District 742 of the need for a new school building. The community strongly advocated for a green school and a school that could house grades 7 and 8 in addition to the typical elementary school configuration.
To meet the desire of the District to build a facility twice as large as the previous school but keep it running using the same operating budget, we had to incorporate almost every imaginable energy-saving option feasible. This was also in light of the fact that the new school would be air conditioned and the previous school was not.
This project features many unique design and mechanical elements. As a Gold LEED certified school designed to earn the Energy Star Rating, we faced many challenges related to the use of new “green” materials, particularly in the flooring. Some of the flooring materials were not designed to work with the moisture content we find in the curing of concrete in the Upper Midwest during a humid summer. Since you are unable to utilize the mechanical system during construction under LEED guidelines, we were not able to turn on the air conditioners to reduce the humidity level. Therefore, we had to work closely with the manufacturer to devise solutions for installing the specified flooring.
The PK-8 Kennedy Community School is a 138,000 square-foot building, constructed with the needs of the students as a focus. If students are motivated by music, art, physical movement or performance, spaces provide for that. If science or technology is important to them, there are aspects for that as well.
Kennedy Community School is a Gold LEED Certified building using 49% less energy than a traditional school building. It features the use of geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaic solar panels, a wind generator, solar tube skylights, use of natural daylighting with light shelves, photoelectric lighting controls and rain gardens.
We are extremely proud of the work we completed with the Kennedy Community School, and are honored that it was selected as the Minnesota Construction Association’s 2009 Green/Sustainable Project of the Year.
To learn more about our planning, budgeting, and construction process with Kennedy Community School, download our free case study.