Green Ribbon Schools Award Nominee:
Broughal Middle School, Bethlehem Area School District
Broughal Middle School (BMS) is in the heart of the South Side of Bethlehem, and serves an ethnically diverse population of approximately 600 students in sixth through eighth grade. Ninety-three percent of the students receive free or reduced meals.
Broughal Middle School, which opened in the fall of 2009, is 186,000 square feet, and was designed as a STEM Signature School (science, technology, engineering and math) in the hope that STEM courses would provide students with opportunities to attend college and compete for jobs in the science and technology sector of the economy. It is the only school in the Bethlehem Area School District to be built for LEED Gold certification and is designed to improve energy savings, water efficiency, emissions and indoor environmental quality. And, because the new BMS was built on the site of the former school, no green space was lost for this new construction.
During the demolition of the old building, materials were sorted and recycled, and a minimum of twenty percent of the new construction materials contain recycled products. As required by LEED standards, a minimum of twenty percent of all building materials were manufactured within five-hundred miles of our site, which reduced transportation costs and carbon pollution.
BMS was designed to support a comfortable and energy efficient environment for students and staff. BMS has been able to reduce the usage of public water with the installation of a rainwater collection system. The 7,600 gallon cistern, housed in the center of the school, collects rainwater used to flush toilets and irrigate the grounds. To aid in water saving efforts, the school also uses waterless urinals, low-flow faucets and sensors on the sinks and toilets. Also, a parking deck housed below the school---and our green rooftop---assist in limiting water runoff.
By using a highly efficient HVAC system, BMS saves energy each year, and the entire building runs on set temperature points, which are triggered through a VAV box. Classroom lighting is controlled through motion sensors and the use of large windows and sky lighting to maximize natural light.
Non-porous flooring and wall coverings were used to eliminate dust and dirt accumulation. The majority of paints, sealants and adhesives used during construction were non-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) to lessen the irritants for those with allergies and asthma.
The underground parking facility has dedicated parking for hybrid, electric vehicles and carpools, an includes a carbon monoxide monitoring system that controls the exhaust fans to maintain safe air quality levels in the garage.
The current day-to-day operations at Broughal follow the district-wide single-stream recycling program. This program allows the commingling of materials in all locations of the building so that recycling is available to all students and staff.
Broughal Middle School is proud of the fact that about 46% of the students walk or ride their bike to school. Air quality outside of the building is improved by clearly placed signs alerting buses and cars of a no idling zone—and school property is also a no smoking zone. School buses running to and from BMS are the newest, low-emission buses in the fleet.
Student health and wellness is a critical component of why BMS has made changes to the built and natural environment. In partnership with area hospitals and non-profit organizations, BMS created a Community School to provide after school and summer programs for students, and to coordinate outreach efforts to families who may need basic necessities. The Family Center, located inside the school, has health examination rooms adjoining the nurse's office, and routinely provides free health and dental care in conjunction with St. Luke's Hospital.
As a STEM Signature School, the curriculum has been re-aligned and STEM courses replaced more traditional elective courses: science of foods in place of home economics, robotics in place of wood shop, as well as additional offerings in astronomy, television production, and environmental engineering.
Environmental education takes place both inside and outside of the school building. Students utilize the greenhouse and nearby community gardens to grow healthy foods. Seventh graders grow food that is used in the cafeteria, and in collaboration with the Southside Initiative, students raise seedlings that are used in community gardens throughout the south side of Bethlehem, and through this work they learn about community-based agriculture. A nearby urban greenway runs through the center of South Bethlehem and is utilized to promote exercise and physical activity.
Deserving special note is the partnership that BMS has undertaken with Lehigh University. Sixth graders are currently participating in a food composting project, using small classroom composters designed by Lehigh University students. The compost will then be used to enrich the soils in the greenhouse and community gardens. Eighth grade environmental engineering students work with Lehigh University students to monitor air quality in the school, and in surrounding neighborhoods. Using portable air monitors, students measured the levels of black carbon particulate and presented the results at a PTO meeting and in their classes. The Environmental Engineering class is in the process of implementing a project with the greenway.
The Broughal Middle School will continue to promote quality learning opportunities in sustainable education and ready its students to be productive members of the community and environmentally aware citizens in the 21st century.