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:

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.

This is a Community Project

Over the past 19 months, the Lincoln School project has been forged by the willingness of residents with a wide range of values, priorities, expertise, opinions, and viewpoints to come together to try to collaboratively solve an incredibly complex problem. The goal of the SBC has been to create a process and a platform for individual ideas to be heard and to give direction to its work. In June, we presented 5 viable ways to move forward, and our community made a group decision, in an unprecedented way, about which project best balanced those priorities and delivered the most value for the investment.

At the end of that Special Town Meeting, an overwhelming majority chose the project known as “L3.” The clarity of the vote was due to the fact that many people, with many ideas, were willing to passionately champion their values while demonstrating their willingness to compromise; finding a balance among multiple needs and interests.

The result is a project that is a reflection of resident values; it is “ours,” as a town, in every sense of the word.

What did it take to get to this point?

When we started this process, many challenged us to go beyond a school that is “safe, warm, and dry” and to focus on transforming the educational environment. They noted that the neighborhood model of classrooms, which supports how our educators teach (with future flexibility), would be easiest to achieve in a new, more compact building – not one with classrooms strung out along a long corridor.

Many residents focused on the opportunity to live up to the green energy goals LIncoln set for itself a decade ago, when the town voted to adopt a fossil fuel reduction standard for its public buildings. They focused our attention on “energy use intensity,” the importance of a well-insulated building, new heating & cooling technologies, and the need to generate electricity on site in order to further reduce our carbon footprint. This would be easiest to achieve with new construction.

Others drew our attention to the deep historical ties the town has to the Ballfield Road site. It was the home of the Lincoln Mohawks baseball team in the first half of the 20th century, and where the town regularly gathered in the grand stands. The Lincoln School itself was designed by two Lincoln-resident modern architects, Lawrence Anderson and Henry Hoover. They helped transform school architecture by providing ample access to natural light, connections to the outdoors, and moveable (dare we say flexible?) furniture that wasn’t bolted to the floor. Many residents saw the important connection of the current building to our town’s history, and wanted to ensure that we re-used as much of it as possible and preserved the integrity of the campus.

The Lincoln School is an important center of the community, and many emphasized its role in our recreational and civic life. They placed a high value on retaining both of our full-sized gyms and the Auditorium.

And everyone wanted to ensure that the project would provide good long-term value for the up-front cost – while being mindful of the immediate impact on the community.

As is quickly apparent, it is not easy to reconcile all of these priorities – but there was a lot of determination! As a result of the creativity of our design team and our committee, and a high level of community participation in the process, we all decided that L3 did the best job of drawing all of those interests together.

On Saturday, we will come together to test that hypothesis.

We know that people will come to the meeting looking at the project through different lenses and their own set of experiences. While we all listen to the presentations and the ensuing debate, the following questions might serve as a framework:

  • What is the impact of our decision on future generations of educators and learners?
  • When we look back in 10 or 20 years, will we have made a wise choice?
  • Have we successfully balanced the values of our community? – Education, environmental stewardship, respect for our history and civic life, and fiscal responsibility?
  • What is the impact of our decision on other Town priorities?

Each of us may answer these questions in different ways. We look forward to a thoughtful and thought-provoking conversation on Saturday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Outreach Team wishes everyone a turkey-and-pie-filled, enjoyable few days!

We will be on hiatus for just a bit…and then you’ll be hearing from us quite frequently in the final days before the Special Town Meeting which is a week from Saturday!

A few links in case you’re trying to avoid doing the dishes:

Lincoln School Project Overview (this should have arrived in the mail along with the official Town Meeting warrant notice and a glossary of Finance Committee terms.

FAQs: Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)

Finance Committee FAQs

FAQs: Tax Deferral and Abatement Programs

Click here to visit the Town’s page dedicated to the December 1st Special Town Meeting.  Lot’s of information!

 

Of Massing Studies, Elevations, and Façades…

…Whether or not you are well-versed in architectural vocabulary, you probably have an opinion about how buildings look.  Here is your opportunity to weigh in on the Lincoln School project! The SBC spent significant time talking about the floor plan for the new “heart” of the school, now it’s time to make a decision about what it will look like in 3D. Come help us! Provide your input at one (or both!) of the Community Workshops on Thursday, November 1st (8am AND 7pm). The SBC reviewed several options at its October 24th meeting.

  • At the Workshops, we will take a look at the front (main entrance and commons) and the back (3rd grade wing and media center) of the building.
  • Our design team will present a couple choices based on the SBC’s guidance and will ask for your feedback.
  • See you in the Reed/Brooks Gym!

What’s in the Project? During the recent “value-engineering” process, the SBC considered the cost/value of about 100 items as it made decisions about how best to use the $93.9M budget to meet Lincoln’s core values. The SBC strived to make thoughtful decisions that would protect the integrity of the Lincoln School project, which will be transformational!

  • Centering the School: The life of the school will be focused on the center of the building – the co-location of the media center (library), flexible learning space, and dining and kitchen facilities will allow students and faculty to come together, interact, and collaborate in new ways.
  • Fostering Collaboration: In grades 3 – 8, classrooms are grouped in neighborhoods centered on shared learning spaces (“hubs”). The hubs support an educational model focused on flexible groupings, differentiated instruction, and fostering age-appropriate independent learning.
  • Connection to the Campus: Students currently eat in gyms with no views to the outdoors. In contrast, the new dining commons will open out to the center field. The media center and the learning commons will both have views out to the woods and fields to the west of the school.
  • Sustainability: The school will switch from natural gas to an electric climate control system – paired with solar energy generation, the goal is a Net Zero building; new insulation and windows; and lower-maintenance, sustainable materials.
  • Safety and Accessibility: Improved pathways for pedestrians and cyclists; better site lighting; secure and accessible entryways; connection and integration of the Reed Gym with the Auditorium and the rest of the building.
  • A Community Resource: The new center of the school, flexible-use spaces, and the refurbished Auditorium and gyms will enhance the school as a community resource during non-school hours.

November Outreach Events – All Events Open to Everyone!

Meetings of Interest:

  • Finance Committee: November 5th, 7:30pm, Donaldson Room
  • SBC Regular Meeting: November 7th, 7:00pm, Hartwell

SOTT Recap

Now that we are in the home stretch, you will be hearing from the Outreach Team a bit more frequently – we thank you for understanding!

State of the Town Update
At Saturday’s State of the Town, the SBC gave an update on the Lincoln School project’s progress since June. Here are the highlights (see the slides, including information from the Finance Committee, here):

  • The SBC has focused on 6 major components of the project:
    • Classroom neighborhoods centered on “hub” spaces for grades 3 – 8.
    • The central “heart” of the school: flexible learning commons, media center (library), central dining commons, kitchen, and a central entrance.
    • Sustainability and systems: energy generation (photovoltaic panels), heating/cooling, insulation, safety & security, electrical, and plumbing systems.
    • Exterior architecture.
    • Site plans: roads, walking and bike paths, and recreational spaces.
    • Phasing: where do students go during renovation?
  • Cost: For the past 3 weeks, the SBC has concentrated on a “value-engineering” process to keep the project on budget. What does that mean? Where are we now?
    • June 9th: The budget we chose as a Town was $93.9M.
    • September 26th: The SBC got estimates from 2 independent cost estimators. The draft estimates were $102M and $109M.
    • September 28th: The two estimators reconciled their estimates to $104M.
    • October 3rd: SBC’s task? Reduce the project by $10M!
      • SMMA presented about 100 items to consider cutting or reducing.
    • October 3rd – October 17th: The SBC closed the gap and brought the project back to budget! How? Most of the gap was closed by scaling back site work, negotiating for a better price on temporary classrooms, and choosing to pursue a Power Purchase Agreement to install photovoltaic panels instead of incurring this as a capital cost. NOTE: Value-engineering is not just about cutting cost, but about making trade-offs that maintain the long-term value of the project. For example, the SBC chose to add in a better heating/cooling system and accepted a small budget increase to enable us to move forward with the tweak to the design that provided a better floor plan for the central part of the school.

Next SBC Meeting: Wednesday, October 24th, 7pm, Hartwell