Inside the New T.C. Williams

The $90.4 million building is about $2 million over budget, but school officials say that
The $90.4 million building is about $2 million over budget, but school officials say that "green" elements, such as these skylights and a rainwater cistern, will yield savings to offset the cost overrun. (Photos By Carol Guzy -- The Washington Post)
By Tara Bahrampour
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 21, 2006

A large garden on the roof. Giant pop-up skylights. A soaring, glass-enclosed media center with 28-foot ceilings.

Workers at the new T.C. Williams High School, which for the last two years has been rising alongside the old building, have moved beyond the basic construction phase and are now focusing on details that administrators hope will win the building national certification as a "green" school.

The three-story, $90.4 million building for 2,500 students will incorporate design and construction elements that are environmentally friendly. The school is among the first in the country to apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council to structures that qualify in several areas. The council will audit the building after it has been finished next year to determine whether it qualifies.

Thirty schools nationwide have certification, including one in Virginia Beach; 220 schools are in the process of applying. The new Great Seneca Creek Elementary School in Montgomery County has applied for certification; other local schools, including Washington-Lee High School in Arlington and Sidwell Friends middle school in the District, plan to seek certification for their buildings.

The District and Montgomery County recently initiated mandates for public and private projects to meet LEED standards, and Arlington County plans to announce a similar policy for public buildings.

Among other green elements, the 461,000-square-foot T.C. building will have:

· A large roof garden that will provide additional insulation to the building, material for science classes and a "chef's corner" with herbs for culinary arts classes.

· Waterless urinals.

· Fluorescent "up-lighting" in classrooms. This feature diffuses light and makes computer screens easier on the eyes.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company