Chartwell School, an award-winning private school located in Seaside, Calif., has become the first completely educational campus to be awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification.

LEED certification, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is awarded to high performance facilities that have taken steps to be significantly greener, healthier, more energy efficient, and sustainable. Platinum is the highest sustainability rating available.

To earn the designation, Chartwell:

  • Incorporated more natural light to save on electricity, reduce HVAC needs, and enhance the learning environment.
  • Installed a 32-kw photovoltaic system that generates enough electricity to cut energy bills in half and avoids the release of 54,000 lb of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
  • Selected paints, finishes, furnishings, and cleaning products that have reduced or no volatile organic compounds.
  • Reduced water consumption by more than 60 percent by installing waterless urinal systems and low-flow fixtures.

“This is a 45-year-old school that made a commitment to go green, become more sustainable, and do it in a very big way,” said Christoph Kubitza, district manager with Waterless Co. Inc., which provided the no-water urinals to the school. “It shows that the challenges (facing an older facility) can be overcome if the desire is there.”

Kubitza said he and his company are working with other educational, government, and private facilities to become more sustainable and/or to seek LEED certification by conserving water.

“Even with a difficult economy, the momentum for water conservation appears to be picking up,” Kubitza said. “This is also due to the fact that water shortages, costs, and droughts are afflicting more areas of North America.”