Building Green

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most widely recognized green building certification programs in the world. Developed by the non-profit US Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED offers architects and builders guidelines for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED guidelines inform the decision-making process for all construction projects at Taft, including the major renovation of the Moorhead Wing, a 100-year old space at the heart of campus; the reconstruction of Hillman House, Taft’s first green-certified passive home and winner of the USGBC top award as the “Outstanding Single-Family Project”; and recent dormitory and faculty apartment updates, including those in CPT and HDT halls.

The Moorhead Wing

The Moorhead Wing was the first major environmentally focused construction project at Taft, and earned LEED Gold certification on completion for its compact footprint, natural light efficiency, and functionality of design. Originally built in 1911, the space was upgraded in 2010 to house two new dining halls, a new academic wing, and a seamless extension of the school’s main hallway. The improvements brought a 93% reduction in wastewater to the space through low-flow fixtures and the use of captured rainwater, reduced CO2 emissions, and improved indoor air quality. More than 92% of the construction waste from the project was recycled, and more than 90% of the wood used was sourced from sustainable managed forestry operations.

Hillman House

The flagship of sustainability and innovation at Taft, Hillman House has earned industry accolades and designations, including LEED platinum, Zero-Energy Challenge, and Passive Home Certified. The building’s energy efficiency begins with its insulation; it boasts an R-value of 48, while the average home in the United States carries an R-value of seven. The four-bedroom, 3,600 square-foot home also has double 2- by 4-foot wall construction and triple-pane windows. The 13.1 kW of solar panels on the house and garage generate electricity, while the home’s appliances, including a condensing dryer, were selected for maximum energy efficiency. The upshot: The home’s heating and cooling systems barely need to run. Monitoring systems wired into Hillman House transmit data back to a classroom in the Wu Science Building, where students in environmental science classes can monitor the data and learn about the impact of passive homes.

Other Physical Plant Initiatives

  • Since 2010, we have purchased 100 percent of our electricity as green power from solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric producers. According to the EPA, our annual green power usage of more than 4.5 million kilowatt-hours is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of nearly 700 passenger vehicles per year, or the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 500 average American homes annually. We also generate our own power through the 12.6 kilowatt solar panel array on the roof of the athletic center, gifts from of Classes of 2006 and 2007.
  • Taft began replacing all lighting on campus with LED components in 2015. LEDs can be more efficient, durable, versatile, and longer lasting than traditional lighting, which is expected to save us $200,000 each year in electrical costs. The savings we realize through renewable energy credits make this a self-funding project over time. We were the first prep school to move completely to LED components.
  • Our advanced building management system automatically adjusts to many factors, including humidity, occupancy, and outside temperature, and is controlled by a centralized computer terminal to promote maximum heating and cooling efficiency. Our campus irrigation system is also computerized to ensure the environmentally efficient watering of our lawns, which are fed with earth-friendly fertilizers—a micronutrient supplement made from seawater.
  • As a result of a thermal imaging study of all campus buildings, more than 1,000 windows were replaced by new, energy efficient double-pane models.
  • Green dorm rooms and offices are encouraged through our Green Rhino Certification Program. Students and faculty can apply to have their dorm rooms and offices audited and approved as low environmental impact spaces through the Green Rhino Certification Program, which is built on LEED guidelines.

Energy Use

Buildings account for 40% of energy use worldwide. In the United States, residential and commercial buildings consume 40% of the primary energy, and more than 70% of total electricity used. Energy use in the form of electricity drives the largest environmental impacts.

Green Rhino Dorm Certification

Students earn Green Rhino Room Certification by attending a training session, committing to sustainable living habits, and having their room audited by a member of TEAM/EcoMon.