Through early community engagement and goal-setting, Westborough’s commitment to net-zero energy use has shaped the design of the new Fales Elementary School. The innovative facility meets the ambitious energy target by reducing energy use and producing renewable energy on site. 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 that the building operates entirely on electric energy.
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.