By Kimball Cartwright
Director of Development

Common Ground High School students walk along the bridge by the new building.

Photo Credit: Michael Doolittle

We’ve opened the new building!

Walking from the parking lot to my office in the farmhouse this past year has meant a winding amble around the new wetland to skirt a large construction fence.  On April 25th, the fence went down and high school students began classes in two new science classrooms, an art classroom, and a large multi-purpose room equipped with a half-court basketball court.

You are invited to celebrate the new building with us on June 2nd at 8:30 a.m.!  We’re holding a big grand opening celebration with staff, students, elected officials and the press, and a tour of the building with different interpretive stations, guided by Common Ground students.

The new building reflects Common Ground’s mission of cultivating “habits of healthy living and sustainable environmental practices”.  Beyond that, the building is beautiful and fits naturally into the setting of forest and hillside.  It looks as if it was meant to be there.” – Nancy Antle, Common Ground Supporter

These two photos show you how far we’ve come in one year:

BifoldDoor1

May, 2015, in the future gym space.  Photo credit: Michael Doolittle

GymFinal1

One year later, in the current gym space!  Photo credit: Michael Doolittle

The building’s resemblance to a New England barn helps connect it firmly to the Common Ground landscape. The exterior sheathing hides a large number of special design considerations that make it one of the “greenest” buildings in Connecticut.  Students from this semester’s Sustainable Design course are using the building to talk about the impact of good design on the environment.  The specially engineered wood is getting lots of attention.

It is the first building of this size in the United States of America to use this innovative cross-laminated timber technology.” – Jeremy Stone, Common Ground Sustainable Design Teacher

Using sustainably harvested wood from Canada, a timber frame supports the entire building, using an absolute minimum of structural steel.  Building construction uses tremendous amounts of energy, but the aggregation of the wood biomass in this building means that the carbon stored in the structural system offsets the emissions of 77 cars, making the building carbon neutral in its first decade of operation.  And it makes the inside of the building beautiful!

Conference RoomA

Second floor atrium Photo credit: Michael Doolittle

After the press event, students from Sustainable Design will stay to talk with guests regarding:

  • the geothermal systems used for heating and cooling;
  • how the building’s air systems improve indoor air quality;
  • soundproofing as a component of indoor environmental quality
  • special bamboo and recycled rubber flooring materials; and,
  • stormwater management strategies employed throughout the Common Ground campus.

You can stay after the tour to attend some of our end of semester Presentations of Learning, which includes special presentations from our seniors on their capstone projects.

If you remember two things, please remember you are invited on June 2nd; and two, that you are always welcome at Common Ground – please give me a call or send me an email and I would be happy to give you a tour of this amazing new New Haven educational facility.  You can reach me at kcartwright@commongroundct.org, or at 203-389-0823, ext. 1210.