Great Seneca Creek Elementary School: Germantown, MD
Passing the Green Test
Ken Wyner Photography
Before the county established high performance design mandates for all new schools, Great Seneca Creek Elementary School was the school system's pilot project to test the benefits of a third-party certification for a new school. As a result, Great Seneca Creek became the first USGBC LEED® certified school in the 138,000-student Montgomery County Public Schools system and in Maryland. It earned a LEED for New Construction (NC) Gold rating. Earlier school construction projects featured high performance components but did not undergo 3rd party certification. Following the success of Great Seneca Creek, seven new Montgomery schools are registered for LEED certification and four are expected to follow. Most building materials came from local sources within 500 miles of the site. A comprehensive indoor air quality management plan prevented the polluting of the new structure. Bathroom partitions are made of recycled plastic from soda bottles and laundry detergent containers. A post-occupancy session revealed a high level of user acceptance of the building and its sustainable features. The geoexchange field at Great Seneca Creek features 10 circuits requiring 120 wells, each 515 ft deep. The GCHP system lowers energy use and provides significant savings in operations.