Honoring our History…

As the SBC and design team work through the Design Development phase, there are discussions about the preservation and reinstallation of historic elements such as the butterfly weathervane and the bell from the deCordova estate. In addition, the committee is considering ways to salvage some materials from the demolition process for reuse in the building. Here are some examples:

  • deCordova Bell: The current proposal is to install the bell in the new Reed Gym connector. This is an area that will be visible to the community during events in the gym and/or the Auditorium.
  • Butterfly Weathervane: Given the scale of the weathervane, an outdoor location is probably most appropriate. The image shows some possible locations.
  • Wood Flooring from the Smith stage: The design team is proposing using the flooring from the Smith stage as an architectural accent in the Learning Commons.

…Building our Future

This was the last SBC meeting before the Design Development drawings and specifications are sent out for the next round of cost estimates (cost estimates will be reviewed at the April 10, 2019 meeting). Many details are being worked through, such as the layout of the new kitchen & dining commons. SMMA’s kitchen consultant is continuing to collaborate with the administrative team, including the Director of Food Services.  They are thinking about issues such as the ease of refilling food displays, height of the check out lines for our younger students, and orientation of the serving and check out lines for maximum efficiency. Here is the latest plan:

Also at the last meeting, the SBC heard an overview of the instructional technology plan. This includes the network infrastructure, presentation tools for classrooms and large spaces, and safety and communication equipment. The plan is to build on our current systems and tools, and do our best to “future proof” our technology. This means building in the flexibility to upgrade and replace sytems and equipment as they change over time.

And in the short term…

The SBC saw the latest iteration of the planned layout for the temporary school that will be built on the center field. Preparations for installation of the modulars are expected to begin after July 4th.

The link to the entire presentation can be found here.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, March 27th, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room.

Worth a 1000 Words…

At the 2/27 SBC meeting, the design team (SMMA/EwingCole) presented the latest iterations of interior and exterior design elements. Some examples are below, and more can be found in the image gallery here.

The next SBC meeting is on Wednesday, March 13th, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room.

The SBC is considering two options for controlling solar glare on the eastern and western sides of the Learning Commons:

2/27/19 (option 1) perforated metal screen; there is flexibility to design the image produced by the perforations

2/27/19 (option 2) series of horizontal slats based on design elements of original Smith School

Another view of the center of the school: main entrance, Learning Commons, and Dining Common

2/27/19 iteration of the Main Entrance

Studies of the interior of the Learning Commons

2/27/19 study of the Learning Commons, looking west

2/27/19 study of the interior of the Learning Commons, looking east

Study for the interior of the Reed Connector

2/27/19 iteration of the interior of the Reed Gym connector

Project Bond Update

At the February 27th SBC meeting, Jim Hutchinson, Chair of the Finance Committee, provided information about the recently issued bond for the project, and shared analysis of the impact on residential tax bills.

On February 15th, the Town’s “AAA Stable” bond rating was reconfirmed by Standard & Poors. This was excellent news for Lincoln, and reflects the decades of hard work and sound financial policy practiced by our professional and volunteer financial team. With the best possible rating in hand, an initial $80M bond was put out to bid and eight offers were received. Citibank Global Markets offered the lowest interest rate, an average of 3.38% over the 30 year life of the bond, which is significantly lower than the percentage rates used in the tax impact models shown at the December 1st Town Meeting. Following are two ways of looking at the tax impact:

The table below shows the projected tax impact on different house values for FY20. It takes into account the proposed FY20 Budget (on which we will vote at the March 23rd Town Meeting).The graph compares the impact of the current scenario ($80M just borrowed @ 3.38% + an expected $8.5M bond @ 4% in 2021) to two prior estimates on a calendar year basis. For the current scenario only (light green bar), the graph includes the impact of the proposed FY20 budget.

This Week @ the SBC: Bond Rate & Design Updates!

In December, the Finance Committee used estimated bond rates of 4% and 5% to model the projected tax impact of the project…

Last week the town’s finance team got an updated bond rating and was ready to put the initial project bond out to bid, locking in our interest rate. The initial bond is for $80M out of the $88.5M residents authorized the town to borrow in order to fund the $93.9M project ($4.4M from the Stabilization Fund and $1.0M from free cash make up the difference between $88.5M and $93.9M). The Finance Committee will give us the bid results and more details at Wednesday’s meeting!

Also on the agenda:

  • Review Updated Floor Plan
  • Review Updated Exterior Elevations and Materials
  • Review Interior Designs of Community Spaces
  • Review Updated Monthly Budget

The SBC meeting is on Wednesday, February 27th, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room.

23 and We…

…Throughout the development of the school project, we have been focused on reaching an energy use target of EUI 23.  What does that mean, how do we get there, and are we getting close to our goal?

First, a refresher, what is EUI?

Energy Use Intensity (EUI) = The amount of energy (kBtu) consumed per square foot of a building. It is calculated by dividing the total amount of energy consumed in 1 year by the number of square feet in the building.

Currently, the school’s EUI is about 65. Why are we trying to get to 23? That is how efficient the building should be in order to be net zero “ready.” Then, the solar PV we put on the roof and over the parking lots will offset the electricity use of the school, making it a net zero building. We are on track to be the first net zero school renovation in the state!

How do we drive down electricity use? There are several main components: 

  • The building envelope: Highly insulated walls and roofs, and energy efficient windows.
  • Mechanical systems: All electric heating and cooling with a heat recovery system (see below to dive deeper into VRF and heat recovery systems).
  • Lighting: An LED lighting system that can gauge and adjust to the amount of natural light.
  • Plug load: How do we use the building? What are our electricity habits? This piece of the puzzle will require all of us who use the building to consciously consider our behaviors.

How are we doing so far? SMMA just ran an energy use model of the building at the Schematic Design phase. As of now, the school has a predicted EUI of 23.39! Energy models will be run again at the end of Design Development and during the Construction Documents phase.

Click here to see the slide deck from the February 13th meeting. It gives an overview of proposed systems and the energy model.

Do we still have your attention? 

What is a VRF system? What is a heat recovery system? Whether or not you are an electrical or mechanical engineer, this technology is pretty cool!

For those interested in the punch line, the goal of these systems is to create a consistent and comfortable indoor environment. They take into account outdoor temperature, solar heat load, and humidity, and can balance out different conditions in different parts of the building.

For those who want to know more…

While the details will be worked out over the coming months, the design team team is proposing some very interesting technologies for air quality, building comfort, and minimal energy usage to achieve our net zero goal.

Traditional heating and cooling systems are usually 100% “on” or “off”. For example, your house may clunk and creak when the boiler fires up, or lights may briefly dim when the A/C kicks on. In contrast, the systems for our new building will have “modulated” or “variable” operation: compressors and fans can run at partial capacity. The resulting system is quieter and more efficient, and can balance heating and cooling needs much more effectively (e.g. one classroom is receiving full sun and another is not).

Ventilation is another issue, as modern buildings are extremely well sealed. The design team is proposing “energy recovery ventilators” (ERV), a type of heat exchanger. ERVs efficiently transfer most of the heat from outgoing stale air to incoming fresh air (or the reverse in the summertime).

In addition, rooms will have sensors to detect occupancy via the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by people. That information is used to optimize air quality (through ventilation) as well as heating and cooling needs.

If Sustainability is Important to You…

…or you just love learning about mechanical and building systems, this is the meeting for you!

SBC Meeting this Wednesday! (February 13th)

7:00pm, Hartwell Multipurpose Room

On the Agenda:

  • Introduce the Commissioning Agent (person who oversees the execution of all the detailed work that must be done to meet our sustainability goals)
  • Review the Owner’s Project Requirements (The “OPR” is the document that lays out general and specific sustainability goals for the project)
  • Review proposed MEP (mechanical, electrical & plumbing) systems
  • Review the progress of the Energy Model (are we meeting our energy use target?)
  • Review updated site plan

More about Sustainability…

On February 1st, representatives from the SBC, design team, Lincoln boards and committees, and Eversource, met to talk about all the aspects of the project that fall under the “sustainability” umbrella: the draft OPR, the negotiation of a Power Purchase Agreement, stormwater treatment, and mechanical systems.  Achieving net zero in a renovation project is a cutting edge concept for public schools in the state, and the message from Eversource was that they recognize our efforts, and are willing to partner with the Town and the design team to support the project in some unprecedented ways. Representatives from Eversource talked the group through the kinds of rebates that may be available to the Town (see the presentation from Eversource here).

Here is a summary of the technical assistance offered by Eversource:

Not Our First Rodeo…

Interior DesignAt the January 23rd SBC meeting, the SBC got a look at design concepts for the the interior of the school.  SMMA talked about choosing interior finishes that 1) create a calmer visual environment; 2) are durable; and 3) stay within our budget. This is made a bit more challenging by the fact that this is a renovation project, and that a number of colorful items will remain in place (i.e. teal countertops and cabinets in some rooms). As the interior is planned, it is important to think about future repairs and replacement when choosing the finishes, and later, the furniture. For example, we don’t want to specify 400 kiwi green chairs only to discover that a) the color will soon be discontinued, or b) that in a few years the “kiwi” of 2019 reminds us too much of the “avocado” of 1979. Fortunately, our administrative team has spent the last several years making these kinds of decisions for the Hanscom Primary and Middle Schools. We are able to draw on this depth of experience and the lessons learned.

Project ScheduleOur Construction Manager, Consigli, presented two important pieces of information at the meeting:

  1. Their cost estimate for the project (based on the Schematic Design phase) came in at essentially the same cost as the prior two estimates by SMMA and Daedalus. There will be another round of cost estimates in late March at the end of the Design Development phase.
  2. Consigli believes that the project can be completed by the start of the 2022/23 school year.  This is about six months earlier than previously planned (the image above shows a comparison of the old and new project schedules). This is one advantage of using a construction manager versus the “design, bid, build” construction method. Consigli is on board now, is part of the detailed investigation of existing conditions, and can help solve problems before difficult (or costly) issues arise.

Site Work: A Site Plan working group was brought together to think through refinements to the site plan. The initial meeting included representation from SMMA, Daedalus, the administrative team, the Conservation Commission, Parks & Recreation, the Roadway & Traffic Committee, the Cycling Safety Committee, and the SBC. The group will examine site related issues and bring ideas and recommendations to the SBC for its consideration.

A Look Inside…

…at Plans for the Interior

At this Wednesday’s SBC meeting (January 23rd, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room), the SBC will spend the bulk of the meeting reviewing updated floor plans, interior design, and interior materials.

3rd Grade Hub as of December 2018

Cost Check: After the December vote, Consigli came on board as our Construction Manager. Since then, they have been examining the building and working with SMMA and Daedalus to understand the details of the project. In the past couple of weeks, Consigli conducted their own cost estimate based on the Schematic Design documents.  This was an independent estimate of the construction costs, which they then reconciled with SMMA and Daedalus. Consigli’s estimate will be reviewed at Wednesday’s SBC meeting.

Managing the Process: In addition to the School Committee, SBC and school administration, town administration and multiple boards and committees are involved in some aspect of the project. A “chairs” meeting took place on January 14th to bring together SMMA, Daedalus, and representatives of Town entities to ensure that permitting efforts are coordinated and communication is efficient. The meeting included representation from town and school administration, the SBC, Finance Committee, Capital Planning Committee, Conservation Committee, Planning Board, Green Energy Committee, and the Historical Commission. 

Making Progress…

The Design Development phase is defined by a continuous series of design refinements, feedback, and decisions. At Wednesday’s SBC meeting, the committee reviewed a couple of different roofline options for the Learning Commons, and considered several possible design directions for the pathways and courtyards on both the east and west sides of the new main entrance.

Learning Commons: After reviewing both “gable” roof and “hipped” roof schemes, the SBC voted to direct the design team to continue to develop the gable roof option. The image above shows the latest iteration of the Learning Commons and main entrance – the design will continue to evolve.

Site PlanSMMA presented three variations of the pathways and courtyards adjacent to the main entrance/Learning Commons. The image above shows the general design direction chosen by the SBC. It features courtyards that flank the Learning Commons both to the east (front) and west (back) of the building. The courtyard in front is envisioned as a more public community space, while the courtyard in the back is seen as being more student-centered (or “business in the front, party in the back” as someone vividly described it!) This design, too, will continue to be developed and refined over time.

NOTE: The SBC learned that this was the last time we would be  joined by Samantha Farrell, Landscape Designer, SMMA, who will be moving out of Massachusetts. We want to express our gratitude to Ms. Farrell for her work on the project, and extend our best wishes to her as she embarks on her next adventure!

Exterior Building MaterialsSMMA and EwingCole presented a number of images and ideas for the exterior finishes of the building.  It is proposed that the school remain a primarily brick building with accent materials in selected areas of the building. Click here to see the complete slide deck from the meeting.

Working Group UpdatesThere are several working groups that are addressing specific aspects of the project. This work will then be reviewed and approved by the full SBC.

  • Education Working Group: This is comprised of members of the school’s administrative team and the design team. In December, SMMA met with teams of teachers to discuss specific and detailed needs. This information informs the development of the school’s interior spaces.
  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Working Group: This group includes committee and community members who have an interest and/or experience in solar energy contracts. The group is working with a solar energy consultant to understand how best to structure an a PPA that meets our energy generation needs and is economically advantageous. The PPA Group is meeting weekly on Wednesday mornings at 8am in the Hartwell multipurpose room.
  • Sustainability Working Group: This group has multiple tasks: 1) Finalize the draft of the “Owners Project Requirements” (OPR) document that outlines the Town’s goals for the project – energy performance, indoor environment quality, water use and stormwater treatment, etc.; 2) Review and recommend to the SBC specific mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; 3) Interview and recommend to the SBC a “Commissioning Agent” who will be responsible for ensuring that the design and construction are meeting the goals of the OPR.

Upcoming Meetings:

  • PPA Meeting – Wednesday, January 16th, 8:00am, Hartwell multipurpose room.
  • SBC Meeting – Wednesday, January 23rd, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room.
  • Sustainability Meeting – Friday, February 1st, 8:00am, Hartwell multipurpose room. This meeting will bring together the design team, relevant town boards, and representatives from Eversource. The goal is to provide an overview of all the components that come under the “sustainability” umbrella, review who is responsible for each piece of the puzzle, and to identify any additional questions or tasks that may need to be addressed.