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Darrow School Teaching & Living Sustainability

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Bio center - inside

Note: This school is on the 2012 Solar & Green Building Tour. See Tour Details...


Darrow School is a must-see for those in the region participating in the Green Buildings Open House on Saturday October 13. An independent boarding and day school on the site of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village since 1932, Darrow School provides a distinctive college preparatory program featuring a unique combination of classroom instruction, hands-on learning, and environmental consciousness for girls and boys in grades 9-12. 

A visit to Darrow during the GBOH will be an opportunity to experience the facilities that support this program as well as interact with some of the students and faculty who comprise the learning community. The Samson Environmental Center (SEC - see above), built in 1998, and the adjacent, recently renovated Science Center are examples themselves of sustainable design, and provide contexts for the study of science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Central to this effort is a 8,500-gallon-per-day ecological wastewater treatment "Living Machine," an indoor constructed wetland designed to detoxify and mitigate the suspended solids from all wastewater inputs on campus before releasing effluent to a series of sub-surface leach mounds. Literally millions of gallons of wastewater later, this system, comprised of anaerobic, open aerobic, clarifier, and ecological fluidized bed reactors, proves that this elegant solution is viable on a larger scale, and can be operated successfully by students and faculty. To some degree, this clear direction of education for sustainability at Darrow inspired NYSERDA, through the School Power Naturally Program, to select the site as one of the 50 schools to receive a 2kW solar photovoltaic array and climate monitoring cluster in 2004.

Old sec being worked on  New sec w turbines

The building to which the SEC is attached (see left & below), the original Darrow School 1969 Science building, has recently undergone a comprehensive energy conservation retrofit including new wall, roof, window, door, HVAC, storm water management, and lighting systems. Initially inspired by a gift from an alumnus of 2 2kW SWIFT wind turbines in 2010, the Science Center renovation is a key project in the campus-wide growing.greener initiative, a program applying the recommendations of a 2009 NYSERDA energy efficiency audit to both historic and modern infrastructure.  Growing.greener is a recognition that energy conservation measures cost only 15% of what energy production measures do, and as such treats the campus with a suite of ECMs offering 8-12% annual return. 

Also, see story on Darrow School's Sustainability Symposium.

Contact: Craig Arthur Westcott, M.Ed.
Curriculum Coordinator
Director, Samson Environmental Center

Darrow School

110 Darrow Road
New Lebanon, NY 12125-2608
518.794.6011 (office)
518.929.5242 (mobile)



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