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School Goes “Green,” Recycles Runoff Water

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In an effort to provide a good example for students and the community, Londonberry School installed a reflective, energy-efficient roof on its new building.


The Londonderry School in Harrisburg, PA, recently opened the doors to a new facility and ushered in a new era of environmentally friendly considerations in school design. Established in 1971, the school occupied leased space for classes extending from preschool through eighth grade. As the population grew and classroom space became tighter, school board members and staff began plans to construct a new building.

The white, 60-mil membrane that was installed over 8,555 sq. ft. of the Londonderry School’s roof provides exterior solar and heat reflection, which helps reduce HVAC energy consumption and water collection for sanitary facilities.

Realizing that construction of a new facility would provide an opportunity to integrate environmental consciousness and affordability in design, school officials systematically studied available options. The result, according to school officials, was “a model to challenge and revolutionize traditional thinking in school construction.” After careful analysis, construction materials and methods were selected to help reduce operating costs for energy consumption.

This innovative approach qualified the school as a “green” building with the U.S. Green Building Council, in Washington, and secured a silver rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. LEED is a national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings, including educational facilities.

One of the components of this green building effort was the use of Carlisle, PA-based Carlisle SynTec Inc.’s Sure-Weld TPO mechanically fastened roofing system. The white, 60-mil membrane was installed over 8,555 sq. ft. of the building’s roof, offering Londonderry School a twofold benefit: exterior solar and heat reflection, which helps reduce HVAC energy consumption, and water collection for sanitary facilities. Rainwater from the sloped roof is collected in a cistern and used to flush toilets in the school’s lavatories and to provide water for the heating system. The roof was installed by Progressive Services, Inc., Dover, PA, a Carlisle-authorized applicator.

The first step of the roofing installation was to secure polyisocyanurate insulation to the deck using fasteners and plates. Once in place, the reinforced membrane was attached to the insulation using the company’s fasteners with piranha plates and then heat welded along the seams. TPO accessories and flashings were installed to complete the roofing portion of the project.

Larry Toot, president of Progressive Services, was pleased with the opportunity to work on the school project. “The Londonderry School was the first LEED project we were involved in. Since the entire program was designed around the “green building” concept, we were able to take advantage of the company’s total roof system package that meets Energy Star guidelines and includes membrane and insulation, as well as a total system warranty,” he said.

In addition to the white TPO membrane and its unique application for recycling runoff water, the building’s insulation values are very high, offering additional energy-saving benefits to the school. Toot added, “We used two layers of four-inch polyiso, throughout. And, since everything is manufactured by one company, I am only dealing with one representative. Also, the fifteen-year total system warranty gives everyone peace of mind.”

Designed by the architectural firm of Murray Associates, Inc., Harrisburg, PA, and erected under the general supervision of the contracting firm of A.P. Williams, Inc., also of Harrisburg, PA, the Londonderry School was given a $500,000 loan from the Sustainable Energy Fund. That led an area bank to finance the remainder of the $3-million project.
The masonry exterior, accented by clerestory windows and large amounts of energy-efficient glazing throughout, provides a balance to the wooded pastoral setting just minutes from Pennsylvania’s state capital. With a “green” building; a silver rating; and a white, Energy Star roof, Londonderry School and Carlisle set a good example of how environmentally friendly products can be integrated into design plans to reduce energy consumption and costs.