News from the Aurora University community

John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at Aurora University receives LEED Platinum certification

Posted by on May 14, 2015

John C. Dunham STEM Partnership SchoolThe U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at Aurora University with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, recognizing the energy-efficient and high-performing design of the building. The STEM Partnership School is one of three schools in Illinois and one of only 44 schools worldwide to obtain the LEED Platinum status.

“We can see the students’ enthusiasm as they learn and grow in this space,” said Jeff Cali, Assistant Vice President of Administration at Aurora University. “This platinum certification is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the many partners involved in planning and construction. We are all proud of the example this building sets for future school construction throughout the country.”

Energy consumption in the school is expected to be approximately 38% more efficient than a typical new building. Certification of this project was based on key green features that include:

  • A structure and function that serves as a teaching tool itself with a garden and greenhouse on the roof, solar panels and a wind turbine. Interior building features, including piping, plumbing and insulation, also are exposed to allow students to learn how they work.
  • Exterior “light shelves” above the south windows of the school serve an important sustainability role for the building, reflecting light deeper into the building and reducing usage of electricity for artificial lighting. Similar structures are placed inside the building to maximize the effect.
  • State-of-the-art heating and air conditioning technology. Under normal operation, HVAC systems maintain set-points and indiscriminately introduce at least 20% outside air to meet codes. The HVAC system in the school introduces more outside air, as much as 100%, instead of recycling it, allowing for the CO2 levels to be reduced to optimum level of human comfort.
  • Sensors in each room automatically control the lighting, heating and cooling systems based on occupancy. This ensures that no resources are wasted by lighting or air conditioning a room that’s not in use.
  • Onsite renewable energy generation large enough that it at times exceeds the school’s demand. When this happens, the excess power is purchased by ComEd and is credited to the school. In essence, the meter “spins backwards.”
  • Dedicated space inside the building that is accessible and available for shared use by the community.

Construction of the 32,000 square foot facility, which includes eight classrooms and six labs, began in fall 2013 and the doors officially opened last August. The STEM school serves students in third through eighth grades from the West Aurora, East Aurora and Indiana Prairie school districts. Fifty students from Batavia School District 101 will join the STEM school this fall, bringing the school to full capacity at 200 students.

The curriculum for students was developed through a unique collaboration between area educators and local corporations, covering the STEM fields as well as art, music and more. It is staffed through a professional development strategy that engages teachers from the partner districts as faculty while they complete AU graduate coursework and become leaders in mathematics and science education.