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Environmental Sustainability

Keeping our Building Energy Efficient

The Northwest School’s main building underwent several significant upgrades over the summer. Every lamp in our historically-recognized main school building is now a LED, and the Commons and Ceramics landings have new carpet made of recycled plastic.

“The micro things we engage with every day, such as using green cleaning supplies, adhering to our environmental purchasing policy, those are examples of using the building as a classroom,” says Director of Facilities Jonathan Hochberg. “Upgrading to LEDs or buying new carpet might not be something everyone notices, but it makes a huge environmental impact almost immediately.”

The school replaced 691 fixtures throughout the main building, bringing the campus more online with the newer facilities of 401 E Pike. The 401 facility was built with LEDs in the gym and the dining hall. Jonathan estimates that changing to LEDs will save nearly $10,000 dollars in reduced energy bills and approximately another $10,000 by not having to replace bulbs as often.

The summer is one of the few times during the school year when the Facilities Department can undertake large projects, such as upgrading light fixtures and replacing the carpet. The carpet in the Commons had not been replaced since 2006. After researching new types of flooring, facilities team member Greg Bagdasaryan recommended Kinetex, a carpet made out of recycled plastic.

“One of the really cool things about Kinetex is that when we want to replace it, the company will tear it up, grind it down, and recycle it into new carpet,” says Jonathan. “Discarded carpet is one of the worst offenders as far as waste in buildings.”

Northwest also joined the city of Seattle’s Building Tune-Ups compliance program over the summer. Building Tune-Ups is a progressive energy policy that makes businesses find operation efficiencies to improve building performance and reduce energy use. Currently, buildings that are 200,000 square feet or larger need to be compliant by March 2019. The Northwest School would not be required to join the program until 2021.

“This an example of a place where we make a choice that isn’t the easiest choice, but it is the choice that fits in with our mission of environmental sustainability,” says Jonathan. “We know we want to move in the direction of being as energy efficient as possible and support a city-wide effort at the same time.”