New GRPS School Earns LEED Certification, Helps with Community Needs | Rockford Construction

New GRPS School Earns LEED Certification, Helps with Community Needs

A focus on community input and sustainability drove the design and construction of Grand Rapids Public Schools’ new Southwest Community Campus, a project that will allow many bilingual students to stay in the GRPS district through middle and high school.

The project is at the heart of a revitalization effort in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood and will serve as an important expansion of an existing GRPS Spanish/English dual-immersion program.

The new school will enable students, 80% of whom are bilingual, to continue through middle and high school while remaining in the GRPS district rather than being forced to transfer to a program out of the district.

In the 2020-21 school year, the building housed students grades seven to nine, but will grow each year until it eventually accommodates students through the end of high school.

The building’s gymnasium and kitchen will also regularly be open to the public during non-school hours as a community resource center.

The 4-story building is certified LEED Silver, which indicates a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility during the project’s construction and into the future.

Steve Orlando, project manager with Rockford Construction, said construction teams improved the existing brownfield site by removing contaminated soils, recycling old asphalt and concrete, and implementing a single-stream recycling system during construction.

Other efforts were made to protect mechanical equipment during construction and avoid costly system flushing to remove dust from ducts during final building prep. Additionally, energy-efficient fixtures and systems were used in many ways throughout the building to reduce energy use over time. The project used LED lighting, sustainable products, and low-VOC materials.

“Both the construction team and GRPS were committed to earning LEED certification throughout the construction process and worked toward that goal,” said Jeff Brakefield, project superintendent with Rockford. “It demonstrates our desire to be good stewards of the environment and will save GRPS thousands of dollars in energy costs over time.”

Rockford Construction also suggested innovative design changes during the project, completing the exterior of the building using precast concrete, a change which created a budget savings for GRPS and expedited the completion of the building.

“We were able to take community feedback and create a space for GRPS that filled an important need for the district while providing cost savings, an environmentally sustainable building and an important community space,” Orlando said. “We’re happy with the outcome of the building and know it will be a community resource for the Roosevelt Park neighborhood for years.”

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