A Greener Future

Centennial construction plans address growing environmental concerns

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has warned of fiercer droughts, heat waves, floods and tornadoes in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area due to global climate change. Despite somber predictions and dwindling reserves of fossil fuels, Upper School AP Environmental Science teacher Kirsten Lindsay said that many Americans are unaware of what may be a worldwide crisis.

“I think people are confused about global climate change,” she said. “Some people say it isn’t real because they can’t see immediate change around them, but it’s what’s happening to the Earth as a whole and the detrimental changes that are occurring consequently.”

One of the main controversies of the 21st century, global climate change has become one of the most pressing issues our society faces today; however, it’s one many students know little about.

“I’d always heard of global warming, but before taking [environmental science] this year,”   junior and current AP Environmental Science student Regina said, “I really didn’t have any idea about the extent of what is happening to our environment. I think it isn’t public knowledge, but it’s an issue that threatens the public so we as a nation need to get educated.”

Lindsay added that the topic has become subject of bi-partisan political debate.

“The matter is not a party problem as it’s often showcased. It’s science, and it’s everyone’s problem,” she said.

Joining in the efforts to combat urban pollution, Hockaday’s upcoming construction will aim to decrease the school’s use of renewable resources. Through the implementation of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the school will have a state-of-the-art environmentally efficient building.

“We’re really excited about the plans our LEED architect, David Dumas, has outlined for us and know that the rest of the Hockaday community will be too,” acting Chief Financial Officer JT Coats said. “So many of the elements within the plans are going to help girls learn about the social responsibility we all have to the environment.”

Environmentally friendly plans will focus on the environmental qualities that are important to the educational processes within the school,” Coats added. The Centennial Center, which will replace the current Crow Science Building, will achieve an official LEED certification for environmental excellence. Coats said she hopes it will achieve a ‘silver’ from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Some of the major “green” plans for the building include: constructing the building with paint, cabinets, carpet and other materials that will release few volatile organic compounds, an updated air system that will have purer air for the buildings, a central chilled and hot water system attached to efficient new central boilers, low flush toilets, increased solar lighting, high performance glass that will keep the building warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and reflective panels on the roof to reduce the ‘heat island’ effect.

But this list does not cover all of the environmentally-friendly features of the building: the plans also include interactive elements to supplement an educational science environment.

“One of my favorite blueprints is a water bottle filling station where the students will refill their reusable water bottles and see how many disposable plastic water bottles they saved in the process,” Coats said.

Other notable additions include a low velocity wind turbine mounted to the roof of the science building that will generate the power required to conduct scientific experiments as well as few Photovoltaic solar panels which will generate power to supplement the building.

In addition, the roof terrace of the new science building will have five planters, filled with soil for growing plants used in experiments. The terrace will function as both outdoor classroom and lab.

The changes Hockaday plans will be a model for the possibilities of environmentally-friendly construction in years to come.

“I’m as excited as anyone to see how it turns out,” Regina said. “It’s rewarding to see change taking place around us. I’ll have to come back after I graduate so I can take advantage of it too.”