Environmental Stewardship

A LEED Gold-certified school, the Buckingham K-5 campus prompts healthy decisions and is made with healthy materials. The site promotes the importance of the natural environment in the daily experiences of students. This is enhanced through student participation in the revealed ecological processes and engineering functions of the school’s built environment.

Media Commons

Media Commons

Project Overview

Sustainable Features
The campus’ design supports the health of students and the environment by incorporating sustainable features. Natural daylight from windows is supplemented with environmentally-friendly Solatube® daylight harvesting found in ceilings and light louvers in classrooms. A water-source heat pump system supports energy-efficient heating and cooling of the school, and innovative stormwater strategies integrate green space, native landscaping, and natural hydrologic functions to generate less site runoff.

Local Resources & Teachable Moments
Material choices highlight local natural resources and prompt teachable moments. Buckingham slate and local kyanite appear prominently in large gathering spaces – such is in the Community Commons and monumental entry stair – reaffirming the community’s connection to its natural context. Outdoors, a unique use of slate is found in the slate‐lined stormwater conveyance channel cutting through the entry plaza. The channel visibly measures the size of storm events, allowing students to understand the occurrence and volume of water associated with each storm.

Learning from & with Nature
Indoors, native species of Virginia trees are incorporated and identified in the educational environment, such as in the “Tree Canopy” breakout space, which provides an imaginative platform for communal sharing and gathering at the heart of the Primary School. The campus helps students learn about and form relationships with the surrounding natural environment, which they will one day inherit.

Students are connected to the natural world around them in their everyday encounters at school:

  • Classroom and kitchen gardens feature plant species found in the Piedmont region of Virginia
  • A science garden based on a 3-5 year cycle demonstrates the seasonal shifts of the Virginia Piedmont
  • Buckingham slate and local kyanite appear prominently in large circulation and gathering spaces
  • Stormwater management strategies double as educational landscapes
  • Branded educational signage prompts connections to Virginia’s ecosystems


Further Reading: