HMFH Architects

Fales Elementary School

The new Annie E. Fales Elementary School, a K-3 grade school in Westborough, Massachusetts is projected to achieve net-positive energy use when it opens in Fall of 2021. Westborough’s commitment to renewable energy significantly shaped the design of the new school, which is the first facility to support the Town’s goal to be carbon-emissions free by 2035. The innovative facility achieves this ambitious target by reducing energy use and producing renewable energy on-site through a rooftop solar array capable of generating 10% more energy than required for the school itself. The light-filled interiors, warm natural materials, and thoughtful integration into the school’s surrounding establishes Fales as a vibrant learning environment year-round.

The school’s ground-floor public spaces—the cafetorium, gymnasium, and administrative offices—are built into the hillside to reduce heat loss and gain through exterior walls. Rooftop monitors and solar panel arrays harvest both daylight and solar energy, while 40 geothermal wells assure the building operates entirely on electric energy. Westborough is also working with National Grid to establish a net-metering contract. This will allow the school to off-load excess energy generated in the summer and draw electricity in the winter. Learn more about net-positive energy at Fales Elementary.

A welcoming and intimate scale for the kindergarten through third-graders was a central design goal for this 400-student neighborhood school. The academic, social, and emotional development and wellbeing of its students is supported through child-centric learning environments and visual connections to the school’s natural setting. Classrooms are clustered by grade level in the school’s academic wings, with direct access to the centrally located music and art classrooms, maker space, and media center. On the upper level, windows and skylights provide learning spaces with natural light and views to the outdoors. The new school fulfills the town’s long-range plan to expand and enhance early childhood and elementary education facilities for the growing population as well as its commitment to environmental responsibility.