written by:
April 13, 2009
Originally published in Think Small

When the Charlottesville Waldorf School bought 13 undeveloped acres outside Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2002, the idea was simply to build a permanent home for the school’s 130 students, replacing the rented space closer to the center of town that the school had outgrown.

The rendering demonstrates how the orientation of the proposed building maximizes solar energy. The orange dots represent the sun's arc at its highest, middle, and lowest points. South-facing windows combined with rammed-earth and straw-bale construction
The rendering demonstrates how the orientation of the proposed building maximizes solar energy. The orange dots represent the sun's arc at its highest, middle, and lowest points. South-facing windows combined with rammed-earth and straw-bale construction will help retain solar gains during daylight hours.
1 / 2
This section shows the living roof that will provide excellent insulation and curtail stormwater runoff. Large expanses of glass provide ample natural light to heat the centrally located rammed-earth wall.
This section shows the living roof that will provide excellent insulation and curtail stormwater runoff. Large expanses of glass provide ample natural light to heat the centrally located rammed-earth wall.
2 / 2
The rendering demonstrates how the orientation of the proposed building maximizes solar energy. The orange dots represent the sun's arc at its highest, middle, and lowest points. South-facing windows combined with rammed-earth and straw-bale construction
The rendering demonstrates how the orientation of the proposed building maximizes solar energy. The orange dots represent the sun's arc at its highest, middle, and lowest points. South-facing windows combined with rammed-earth and straw-bale construction will help retain solar gains during daylight hours.

The school’s campaign to build the greenest school in America evolved almost by accident as it dawned on administrators that building green meshed nicely with the school’s educational philosophy—and its modest annual budget.

Specifically, CWS is angling to construct the first elementary-school building in the country to earn a platinum certification from the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. The council promotes environmentally responsible construction methods through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, awarding points for materials with recycled content, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and other staples of sustainable building.

Established in 1982, the Charlottesville Waldorf School is one of about 150 schools in the U.S. following a curriculum developed by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner that stresses creativity and freethinking. (The Waldorf name comes from the cigarette company that bankrolled the first Waldorf school in Germany in 1919.) “The Steiner-Waldorf philosophy has always been one of surrounding the childhood experience in the natural world,” says Marianne Lund, the building-campaign chairperson and the mother of three CWS students. “So we came to a point where we realized that if we’re going to match the building process with our school philosophy, there really is no alternative but to build green.”

Designed by Ted Jones Architect of Charlottesville, the 19,000-square-foot building will be constructed largely with plywood panels insulated with locally produced straw bale—an inexpensive, renewable alternative to foam insulation. Windows will be oriented to take advantage of natural light and breezes, while the straw-bale panels and a heat-absorbing rammed-earth wall running the length of the building will help keep classrooms naturally warm in the winter. A green roof will cover much of the school, insulating the building while absorbing storm-water runoff. The building “will pay for itself very well over time with reduced energy costs,” says the school’s administrator, Nancy Regan.

By the end of 2005, the school had raised about $2 million of the $6.7 million that administrators say it will cost to build the new school, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2007. The administrators and architects say they aim to prove to other schools that building green need not be an expensive proposition.

“Our goal is beyond just creating a school for ourselves,” Regan says. “If we can do it by showing that you don’t have to be a big, wealthy institution to create a green building, that’s a great inspiration for people. We’re a really small institution. If we can do this, pretty much anybody can.”
 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

Studio addition in Seattle
An architect couple sets out to transform a run-down property.
February 08, 2016
West Elm coffee table, custom Joybird sofa, and matching Jens Risom chairs in living room of Westchester renovation by Khanna Shultz.
Every Monday, @dwell and @designmilk invite fans and experts on Twitter to weigh in on trending topics in design.
February 08, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment living room vertical oak slats
For the modernists among us, these spare spaces are a dream come true.
February 08, 2016
The square fountain at the courtyard's center is a modern rendition of a very traditional feature in many Middle Eastern homes.
From a large gathering space for family or a tranquil sanctuary, these seven designs feature some very different takes on the ancient idea of a courtyard.
February 08, 2016
stdaluminum 021
Since windows and doors are such important aspects of your home, it’s always a good idea to take the time to evaluate how they fit within the lifestyle you want. Whether you’re in the middle of constructing a new home, or you’re considering replacing your current setup, there are multiple elements to consider when it comes time to make the final decisions. Milgard® Windows & Doors understands how vital these choices are to the well-being of your home and has developed ways to turn the process into a journey that can be just as enjoyable as it is fulfilling. Not sure where to start? We gathered some helpful insights from their team of experts to help us better understand what goes into the process of bringing your vision to life.
February 08, 2016
modern fire resistant green boulder loewen windows south facade triple planed low-e glass
These houses in Broncos Country prove modern design is alive in the Rocky Mountains.
February 08, 2016
french evolution paris daniel rozensztroch living area eames la chaise butterfly chair moroccan berber rug
A tastemaker brings his distinct vision to an industrial loft with a centuries-old pedigree.
February 07, 2016
senses touch products
The haptic impact can’t be underplayed. The tactility of a material—its temperature, its texture­—can make the difference between pleasure and discontent.
February 07, 2016
senses taste products
Ambience is a key ingredient to any meal—materials, textures, and mood all impart a certain flavor.
February 07, 2016
senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016
distant structure lakeside prefab norway facade stones green roof
Dwell has traveled all over the world, from Tasmania to Indonesia, to report on modern houses.
February 05, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment master bedroom atrium
Get ready for a weekend of rest with these sleepy, little cocoons.
February 05, 2016
lamp show 99 cent plus gallery 0
At Brooklyn's 99¢ Plus gallery, 30 artists and designers re-imagine the lamp in an illuminating light show.
February 04, 2016
Hidden storage stairwell with raw brass hardware
Having ample space to stow items is a daily struggle—peep these modern homes for some ideas on maximizing your square footage.
February 04, 2016
modern fairhaven beach house blackbutt eucalyptus living room Patricia Urquiola sofa
Whether it's along a coast in Australia or the French Alps, wood provides a natural touch in these interiors.
February 04, 2016
Glass and steel sculpture in Printemps store of Paris.
In the Paris' venerable Printemps department store, two Toronto-based firms were tasked with enlivening a new atrium and creating a unique experience for visitors. YabuPushelberg, partnering with UUfie, designed this stunning steel "sail" embedded with vibrant dichroic glass.
February 04, 2016
Monochromatic Master Bedroom in Copenhagen Townhouse
Whether it's to maximize limited light or create a soothing interior, these five projects go white in a big way.
February 04, 2016
EQ3 Assembly quilt by Kenneth LaVallee
The new Assembly collection from EQ3 celebrates up-and-coming figures in Canadian design. Discover this newly appointed class, which debuted at Toronto's Interior Design Show, here.
February 03, 2016
The Greenhouses of Half Moon Bay
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most viral design and architecture shots of the week.
February 03, 2016
Deck of Australian addition to Edwardian home.
A 1,500-square-foot home in Melbourne welcomes a modern black and white kitchen, dining, and living area.
February 03, 2016
open plan concrete home in japan
Embracing the organic, imperfect material, these raw concrete surfaces are a step up from exposed brick.
February 03, 2016
Renovated DC Row House loft space with Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair.
The classic designer's signature and comfortable forms continue to be popular in homes today.
February 03, 2016
Zinc-roofed cabin France.
An architect builds an energy-efficient home near one of France’s most popular pilgrimage sites.
February 03, 2016
1973 Palm Springs home
Made for casual design enthusiasts and Palm Springs connoisseurs alike, Unseen Midcentury Desert Modern offers a peek into 51 buildings—some not open to the public—in that Southern California mecca of modernism. Begun in 2008 by photographer Dan Chavkin, the book is set for release this February 9th and will be available on Amazon and at multiple venues of Modernism Week in Palm Springs, February 11 - 21. Here we preview some of its images.
February 03, 2016
Millennial concept home with an outdoor living area
A concept home aims to reflect the requests of the Millennial market.
February 03, 2016
The two twelve-by-sixteen-foot bedrooms, directly above a comparable pair on the first floor, feature a glass transom that follows the pitch of the roof. “The stair and railings were very simple,” Depardon observes. “We added a bit of design, with panels
Skylights needn't be simple overhead daylighting; sometimes they can truly define a room.
February 03, 2016