Saugus’ new middle/high school is the first step in the town’s master plan for redeveloping its school system. As the gateway project, this resilient, future-ready school sets a precedent for Saugus’ commitment to improving the environment. Incorporating water conservation methods into the building is essential in achieving the project’s sustainability goals, and our holistic design integrates these measures into the everyday routine of the school. The strategy for limiting potable water use is divided into three main components: reuse, conservation and stormwater management.
Water Reuse and Conservation
To capture stormwater for repurposing, the roof of the building functions as a catchment system, while condensate from select HVAC equipment also located on the roof is used to augment the stored water. Once collected, the water is channeled to three 30,0000-gallon underground cisterns. Two of the cisterns are dedicated to supplying irrigation to the plantings around the building and the natural turf used for track and field events. This enables native plants to thrive on the site and requires less maintenance and water than a lawn would.
The third cistern directs water back into the building where it is passed through multi-stage filters and exposed to UV light, killing any remaining microorganisms and dying the water a light shade of blue. This filtered, cleaned water is used to flush all toilets and urinals, and conservation is further supplemented with the use of low-flow fixtures throughout the facility. By introducing these systems, the school is expected to save over 1.5 million gallons of water and to reduce water consumption by 45% annually.
The rain gardens, or bioretention areas, are linear landscaped zones running through the school’s parking lots, designed to collect, infiltrate, and cleanse rainwater, as well as help reduce the rate of stormwater runoff from the site. Their primary function is to improve the quality of the water being drained from the parking lots, and significantly reduce the harm from petrochemicals through the soil and plant filtration process. Keeping a portion of the rain gardens above the surface introduces green space, which reduces heat-island effect, adds habitat for biodiversity, provides an aesthetic amenity and enhances educational opportunities. A rooftop outdoor classroom and vegetated green roof function similarly by filtering water, slowing stormwater runoff, reducing heat-island effect, and adding habitat for biodiversity. The green roof also serves as an engaging educational space where students can tend to their own experimental plantings, and sustainable systems are taught first-hand.