The new Douglas & Gates Elementary School will provide a home for the three distinct school programs in the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District while setting an example by being designed to be triple net-zero—energy, water, and waste. Consistent with the district school choice philosophy, every elementary school has its own character and focus. During the planning and educational visioning phase, Arrowstreet focused on how to provide equity among the schools coupled with maximizing shared spaces such as break-out spaces, appropriately sized cafeteria, gym, STEAM labs; and support for Special Education Services. This also provided an opportunity for the design to reflect the unique personality of the schools. A unique feature of the design is the configuration of small group break-out rooms between the classes to facilitate large group, small group, and one-on-one individualized learning methods.
Located by Fort Pond Brook, one of many Town natural resources, the brook plays a pivotal role in the design of the school with adjacent protected wetlands and riverfront area. The project is carefully sited to minimize the impact on the site and celebrate the local ecosystem. A reconstructed boardwalk crossing the brook will connect Indian Hill residents to the new school allowing for more students to have the opportunity to walk to school.
Consistent with the District’s commitment to sustainability and resiliency, the school is designed towards net-zero energy, net-zero water, and new zero construction and operational waste standards. The systems of the building have been carefully chosen to achieve a design EUI of 28 or lower. This includes geothermal wells, solar PV collection, and occupant engagement to minimize system and plug load and maximize energy production. Rainwater harvesting from the building roofs will be stored and reused to flush building toilets. The school itself promotes health, wellness, and energy efficiency. Each core classroom has access to daylight, views to the exterior, and windows to the corridor to connect classrooms to each other. Careful procedures will be in place to minimize the construction waste directed towards landfills and work with the District to identify operational waste procedures to ensure this school functions to the best of its ability.