We are often told not to judge a book by its cover.
Then there’s the brand new Patriot Wellness Center, a sparkling fitness facility at Stevenson that is set to debut in early August. It stands to get high marks from cover to cover, while being a real page-turner in between.
The attention-grabbing bells and whistles of the PWC will obviously catch the eye, but the inner workings will impress, too, as the construction of the PWC and the planning of its behind-the-scenes features was scrutinized to the smallest detail. There was an emphasis on green energy, high-tech capabilities and smart functionality that will make this facility trailblazing for a school building of its kind…and truly shine from the inside out.
From green ventilation and energy produced from solar panels to equipment that is synced with high-tech Wi-Fi that can be retro-fitted for future upgrades, the PWC has it all…and much, much more ~ and that is all illustrated in our latest Sneak Peak video on Instagram Reels.
“It’s important to our Board and our students that we build things that are sustainable. And this is sustainable,” said Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Sean Carney, who has spearheaded the project from its genesis. “People talk about reducing the carbon footprint. And this building does that, but it’s more than that.”
While the PWC will not be fully Net Zero, due to all of the equipment that will draw a significant amount of power, it will be using solar panels that are stationed on its roof for energy. And those solar panels will also generate enough power ~ a full megawatt of power per hour ~ to completely power Stevenson’s Fieldhouse next door. That will give Stevenson two Net Zero buildings on campus, as the first East Building Addition is also Net Zero.
Net Zero is the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Net Zero is achieved when the amount of greenhouse gas added is no more than the amount removed.
As with that first East Building addition, opened in August of 2018, the Patriot Wellness Center also houses a living wall. It’s not just a beautiful feature, it’s green and functional, too.
“Our building air with the living wall will actually be better than the air outside,” Carney said. “Rainwater will be collected through a rain harvesting system that will feed that living wall. The added benefit is that we are re-using a natural resource to water our living wall and because we are collecting that rainwater, that is rainwater that won’t have to go into the storm sewers and create flooding downstream.”
Even construction waste has been considered. Stevenson and its construction partner Gilbane have committed to recycling construction waste. An astonishing 90 percent of all the trash that has come from the worksite ~ everything from scrap metal to concrete ~ has been diverted from a landfill because it is being recycled and in many cases is being used elsewhere.
Back inside, many of the outer walls of the PWC are huge floor-to-ceiling glass windows, which promote a bright, cheerful environment. But careful thought was also put into how those glass windows, which are reinforced for safety and security, would affect temperature and energy usage.
“We’ll have shades and sunfins that will still let all of that great light through, but it won’t heat the building,” Carney said. “And because we’ve got all of that glass, we’ll use significantly less energy to illuminate the building, even on dark days.”
Meanwhile, the PWC will be a shining light of technological advances in fitness and function.
The huge weight area in the PWC was created with both functionality and noise reduction in mind.
The concrete floor of the weight area was double-poured with a two-inch space of air in between to allow for the full absorption of noise when weights are dropped to the floor. With the weight area on the second floor, this was a thoughtful but essential feature to reduce noise throughout the building, particularly below.
“I get geeked out by certain things and one is the weight room floor,” Carney said. “They lifted that second layer two inches to create that air gap that will make it soundproof. I mean, that just amazes me. Who would have thought to do that? I think it’s super cool.”
In fact, so much about the PWC is super cool…both inside and out. Carney says it’s the biggest project he has ever managed at Stevenson, and perhaps the most rewarding.
“We started from a practical need because we needed more space for our kids, for lunch and athletics and co-curriculars,” Carney said. “But as we started to go through the process, that’s when we started to realize that there could be other benefits to this…and what if we made it for all of those things, too.
“As you think about the importance of social and emotional learning and the physical component of that, it all seems to come together. The lightbulb goes off and you realize that this is the physical aspect of social-emotional learning that we can provide all of our students.”