flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

D.C.'s Dunbar High School is world's highest-scoring LEED school, earns 91% of base credits

K-12 Schools

D.C.'s Dunbar High School is world's highest-scoring LEED school, earns 91% of base credits

The 280,000-sf school achieved 91 points, out of 100 base points possible for LEED.


By Perkins Eastman | February 26, 2015
D.C.'s Dunbar High School is world's highest-scoring LEED school, earns 91% of base credits

Natural light floods the interior spaces. All photos: copyright Joseph Romeo

Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., has been certified LEED Platinum, the highest distinction, by the U.S. Green Building Council. Designed Perkins Eastman in association with Moody•Nolan, the 280,000-sf school achieved 91 points, out of 100 base points possible for LEED, making it the highest-scoring school in the world certified under USGBC’s LEED for Schools-New Construction system. The new school building welcomed its first students in 2013.

Located blocks from the U.S. Capitol, the high school provides a high-performance 21st-century learning environment designed to catalyze the renewal of one of our most historic schools. The nation’s first public high school for African Americans, Dunbar was originally founded in 1870 and relocated to the current site in 1917. Demolished in the 1970s, the 1917 building was a particular point of civic pride in the community, representing the values and dreams of the students, their families, and the larger community, and their aspirations for notable achievement.

The school campus raises the bar for sustainable, high-performance school design in the District and for the students’ environmental stewardship. Its more prominent sustainable design attributes include:

  • 482 kW photovoltaic array, provided through Washington, D.C.’s first power purchase agreement, that generates enough energy on a sunny summer day to power all classroom lights for eight hours
  • Washington, D.C.’s largest ground-source heat pump system below Dunbar’s athletic field, with wells extending 460 feet deep
  • The reopening of O Street as a sustainable model that features 6,152 sf of rain gardens able to handle a 1.2-inch storm event
  • Pervasive natural light resulting from proper orientation and shading of the building
  • Two 20,000-gallon cisterns and low-flow fixtures help save over 1,400,000 gallons of potable water/year
  • Enhanced acoustics that help create a high-performance learning environment.

“Dunbar’s LEED Platinum achievement is a testament to the power of vision and dedication to create a truly sustainable high-performance learning environment,” says Sean O’Donnell AIA, LEED AP, Principal-in-Charge of the project and the leader of Perkins Eastman’s K-12 practice area. “In the same year that the school has been certified Platinum, it has also posted the highest standardized test score gains in the entire city—this after only one year in the building. I believe that innovative design has created a synergy with the school’s educational transformation initiatives that is resulting in more successful educational outcomes for the students.”

The school was designed in close collaboration with the Department of General Services, the District of Columbia Public Schools, the school and its alumni, the community, and the design and construction team, which was a joint venture between Perkins Eastman, Setty Associates International, and SK&A Structural Engineers in association with Moody•Nolan. The team also includes Smoot/Gilbane Construction.

 

Related Stories

Construction Costs | Feb 22, 2024

K-12 school construction costs for 2024

Data from Gordian breaks down the average cost per square foot for four different types of K-12 school buildings (elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, and vocational schools) across 10 U.S. cities.

K-12 Schools | Feb 13, 2024

K-12 school design trends for 2024: health, wellness, net zero energy 

K-12 school sector experts are seeing “healthiness” for schools expand beyond air quality or the ease of cleaning interior surfaces. In this post-Covid era, “healthy” and “wellness” are intersecting expectations that, for many school districts, encompass the physical and mental wellbeing of students and teachers, greater access to outdoor spaces for play and learning, and the school’s connection to its community as a hub and resource.

K-12 Schools | Jan 25, 2024

Video: Research-based design for K-12 schools

Two experts from national architecture firm PBK discuss how behavioral research is benefiting the design of K-12 schools in Texas, Florida, and other states. Dan Boggio, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, Founder & Executive Chair, PBK, and Melissa Turnbaugh, AIA, NCARB, Partner & National Education & Innovation Leader, PBK, speak with Robert Cassidy, Executive Editor, Building Design+Construction.

K-12 Schools | Jan 8, 2024

Video: Learn how DLR Group converted two big-box stores into an early education center

Learn how the North Kansas City (Mo.) School District and DLR Group adapted two big-box stores into a 115,000-sf early education center offering services for children with special needs. 

Designers | Jan 3, 2024

Designing better built environments for a neurodiverse world

For most of human history, design has mostly considered “typical users” who are fully able-bodied without clinical or emotional disabilities. The problem with this approach is that it offers a limited perspective on how space can positively or negatively influence someone based on their physical, mental, and sensory abilities.

Education Facilities | Nov 9, 2023

Oakland schools’ central kitchen cooks up lessons along with 30,000 meals daily

CAW Architects recently completed a facility for the Oakland, Calif., school district that feeds students and teaches them how to grow, harvest, and cook produce grown onsite. The production kitchen at the Unified School District Central Kitchen, Instructional Farm, and Education Center, (“The Center”) prepares and distributes about 30,000 meals a day for district schools lacking their own kitchens.

Products and Materials | Oct 31, 2023

Top building products for October 2023

BD+C Editors break down 15 of the top building products this month, from structural round timber to air handling units.

Giants 400 | Oct 30, 2023

Top 170 K-12 School Architecture Firms for 2023

PBK Architects, Huckabee, DLR Group, VLK Architects, and Stantec top BD+C's ranking of the nation's largest K-12 school building architecture and architecture/engineering (AE) firms for 2023, as reported in Building Design+Construction's 2023 Giants 400 Report.

Giants 400 | Oct 30, 2023

Top 100 K-12 School Construction Firms for 2023

CORE Construction, Gilbane, Balfour Beatty, Skanska USA, and Adolfson & Peterson top BD+C's ranking of the nation's largest K-12 school building contractors and construction management (CM) firms for 2023, as reported in Building Design+Construction's 2023 Giants 400 Report.

Giants 400 | Oct 30, 2023

Top 80 K-12 School Engineering Firms for 2023

AECOM, CMTA, Jacobs, WSP, and IMEG head BD+C's ranking of the nation's largest K-12 school building engineering and engineering/architecture (EA) firms for 2023, as reported in Building Design+Construction's 2023 Giants 400 Report. 

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category



K-12 Schools

K-12 school design trends for 2024: health, wellness, net zero energy 

K-12 school sector experts are seeing “healthiness” for schools expand beyond air quality or the ease of cleaning interior surfaces. In this post-Covid era, “healthy” and “wellness” are intersecting expectations that, for many school districts, encompass the physical and mental wellbeing of students and teachers, greater access to outdoor spaces for play and learning, and the school’s connection to its community as a hub and resource.


K-12 Schools

Video: Research-based design for K-12 schools

Two experts from national architecture firm PBK discuss how behavioral research is benefiting the design of K-12 schools in Texas, Florida, and other states. Dan Boggio, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, Founder & Executive Chair, PBK, and Melissa Turnbaugh, AIA, NCARB, Partner & National Education & Innovation Leader, PBK, speak with Robert Cassidy, Executive Editor, Building Design+Construction.

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021