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July 31, 2013
Educare of Washington DC, a high-quality, early childhood education school for children ages birth to five years, celebrates the achievement of LEED Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. This is a great honor for the Educare Learning Network, as Educare DC becomes the seventh school in the growing national network to achieve the LEED sustainability recognition.
The DC school is designed to serve as a model of early childhood education for the community. This vision includes a healthy, sustainable environment that nurtures children while reducing an ecological impact.
Educare pursued the nationally recognized 3rd party rating system of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), because the program recognizes sustainable aspects of high-quality buildings. The team earned the Silver Certification by focusing on the building's connection to the neighborhood, energy efficiency and the integration with ecology.
Located in DC's Ward 7, there are numerous destinations within walking distance of the school. RDG Planning & Design designed a friendly entry along the street as many families commute via stroller. Abundant native plantings around the site offer new experiences for children while also requiring no irrigation. The thoughtful landscaping and pedestrian access help make Educare relevant to the families it serves.
The building design helps children interact with nature on a variety of levels. Its numerous windows and doors provide an abundance of natural light, which creates a feeling of openness and establishes a direct connection between indoor and outdoor. Throughout the center, windows down at child height provide up-close views of the outdoor environment.
Designing the project around nature resulted in spaces with quality daylight and a connection to the outdoors. For example, the building is organized around a courtyard to provide children better access to the outdoor learning spaces. Because glare can be distracting for learning and also adds considerable heat to the space, the windows are shaded from direct light. Significantly, all classrooms have central daylight monitors that provide an optimal learning environment.
The team delivered an energy-efficient envelope by utilizing high-performance wall design, with attention to glazing, and mechanical system selection. Interior plumbing fixtures and light fixtures were selected to reduce overall consumption. Temperature and lighting controls allow building occupants to have more control over their comfort.
Building materials were selected based upon indoor air quality for the safety of the occupants, as well as environmentally responsible products containing high recycled content, FSC wood and/or are located regionally from the project site to reduce the carbon footprint of construction.
Overall, the project represents sustainability best practices, paired with design responses to the humid, sub-tropical climate. Due to the team's emphasis on high-performance design, the facility will provide decades of efficient operation and, more importantly, a first-class setting for the families served by Educare.
RDG has been working with the Educare Learning Network for more than a decade as a trusted partner. The firm supports the strategic development of a national network of world-class early education facilities aimed at breaking the circle of poverty through early intervention. Each Educare facility is part of a national research project working to capture best practices and radiate those to other centers throughout the country. The RDG team has served the network in strategic planning, architecture, playground design, landscape design, and interior design roles for the vast majority of the facilities across the network.