High Performance Building Database

Photo credit: © Barry HalkinHere's a growing US DOE list of high performance buildings. Is there one in your area? Anything you commissioned or designed?

One of the buildings is the LEED-NC Platinum Sidwell Friends Middle School, in Washington, DC.


  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Building type(s): K-12 education
  • 54% new construction, 46% renovation of a 1950 building, last renovated in 1971
  • 72,200 ft2 (6,710 m2)
  • Project scope: 3-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed September 2006
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2/v.2.1--Level: Platinum (57 points)

Environmental Aspects

Designed to foster an ethic of social and environmental responsibility in each student, the facility demonstrates a responsible relationship between the natural and the built environment.

Bicycle storage and showers are available, and the building is located within walking distance of a subway stop and several bus stops. Parking is available in an underground lot. A green roof and constructed wetland reduce stormwater runoff, improve the quality of infiltrated runoff, and reduce municipal water use. The wetland treats wastewater for reuse in the toilets and cooling towers.

The building was sited to take advantage of passive solar design. Together with high-efficiency electric lighting, photosensors, and occupancy sensors, daylighting minimizes lighting energy use. Solar-ventilation chimneys, operable windows, and ceiling fans minimize the need for mechanical cooling. Rather than develop a utility plant for this building alone, a central plant was created to serve the entire campus. A photovoltaic array generates about 5% of the building's electricity needs.

Reclaimed materials include exterior cladding, flooring and decking, and the stone used for landscaping. Interior finishes were selected for their high levels of recycled content, low chemical emissions, and use of rapidly renewable materials.