“Raise the standards” – the theme of Catholic Schools Week 2013 – had special meaning at a celebration at Valley Catholic School on Jan. 30. After opening their new elementary and middle school building in fall 2011, the school planned to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification. Instead, they raised the standards and earned gold.
The campus celebrated by formally unveiling a LEED Gold plaque in the lobby of the building. The ceremony began with a prayer by Sister Charlene Herinckx, Superior General of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO). She and SSMO Ministries President Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen both spoke about the ways in which the values of the Sisters guided the quest for a building that would serve students and protect the environment now and for the future.
Valley Catholic School President Bob Weber echoed that theme. He said, "Seeking LEED Gold demonstrates the desire of the Sisters to do their part in sustaining our natural resources and looking out for the environment of today and the future. As part of the LEED process, the Sisters utilized local companies and resources, including the site-harvested wood that makes up a portion of the ceiling and the majority of the chapel. Using and sustaining God’s natural creation is a cornerstone of this project."
The ceremony was covered by the Catholic Sentinel, KGW Newschannel 8 and FOX12.
About LEED Certification
Established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
Built from May 2010 to Sept. 2011 under the leadership of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO), the two-story, 67,000-square-foot building was designed by Soderstrom Architects. KPFF Consulting Engineers and general contractor Howard S. Wright oversaw construction of the $12.7 million project.
The building earned a LEED gold rating for its innovative approach to recycling materials, including insulation made from recycled jean material, flooring made from corn chips, green roofs and high-efficiency HVAC systems. Among dozens of other features, the building has two green roofs featuring the flowering plant sedum, large windows for natural lighting, and a white cap sheet that reflects the heat from sunlight and reduces energy costs. Wood from a 200-year-old oak tree on the school site has been incorporated into wall paneling, chapel doors and furniture, and a wood slat ceiling.
Educating people about green construction and sustainability was one of the factors that LEED considered for the building’s final rating. Valley Catholic Middle School Vice Principal June Poling, who heads the middle school science department, worked with teachers to create a middle school curriculum based on the LEED certification process.
The first new Catholic school to be built within the Archdiocese of Portland since 2004, the Valley Catholic Elementary and Middle School building currently serves 340 students in kindergarten through fifth grade and 225 students in sixth through eighth grades.
More photos from the LEED Gold ceremony are available on the Valley Catholic Flickr site.