March 3, 2010

First in Nation to be Awarded with Platinum LEED® for Schools Certification

Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton (SHS),, a Roman Catholic, independent, coeducational school for students from preschool through twelfth grade, has just achieved two major “firsts” for its dedication to environmental responsibility. First, its newly constructed Michael J. Homer Science and Student Life Center has earned the first newly created Platinum-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Schools certification in the nation - the highest LEED rating a school building can receive from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Second, the school is the first in San Mateo County to be approved by the Department of Environmental Health Services Division to use fruits and vegetables grown in its own organic garden for preparation and food service in its school cafeteria. Under the supervision of Dr. Stewart Slafter, the 10,000-square-foot organic garden is maintained and operated by Sacred Heart students and faculty as part of its Environmental Science and Global Studies courses. In addition to feeding faculty, staff and students, food grown and harvested in the organic garden is donated to local charities like St. Anthony of Padua’s Dining Room in Redwood City and Sandwiches on Sundays in Menlo Park.

“Sacred Heart Schools is dedicated to providing a best-in-class learning experience for our students,” stated James Everitt, principal of Sacred Heart Preparatory. “The organic garden program and Michael J. Homer building give students a unique hands-on experience and insight into environmental sustainability, which will aid them as they grow up in a world where this issue is increasingly important. These accolades represent a much-appreciated recognition of Sacred Heart Schools’ on-going effort and commitment and will remind our students of the value they’re bringing the community. We’re thrilled to have been honored in this way.”

Platinum LEED for Schools Certification of the Michael J. Homer building was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact Sacred Heart Schools and the broader community. The two-story building, designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and built by DPR Construction, Inc., encompasses 44,000 square feet and was built along an east/west axis to take maximum advantage of solar access and prevailing winds to reduce the cost of heating and cooling the building. The school building is designed to use 69 percent less energy than a typical school in the U.S. It features natural lighting and ventilation and use of renewable and recycled materials, including recycled cotton/denim used for insulation of the interior walls, 73 skylights throughout the building, solar panels and formaldehyde-free plywood and other wood products. Other environmentally friendly features include:

  • Water Saving Plumbing: Water-efficient toilets and faucets reduce water consumption by over 40 percent.
  • Photovoltaic Panels: A 40K photovoltaic system converts sun energy (sunlight and UV radiation) directly into electricity for the building.
  • Living Roof: The roof, planted with native foliage, provides excellent insulation and reduces storm water runoff, while providing a habitat for native birds and butterflies.
  • Water-Efficient Landscaping: Drought tolerant native plants reduce the amount of water consumption by over 50 percent.

“Sacred Heart Schools’ Platinum LEED for Schools certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council. “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Sacred Heart Schools serves as a prime example of just how much we can accomplish.”

Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton ( was founded in 1898 by the Society of the Sacred Heart and is located on a 63-acre campus in Atherton, California. It is the only accredited preschool through twelfth grade school in the Bay Area with a total enrollment of approximately 1070 students. SHS is a member of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools with 21 schools in the United States and continues the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart whose members serve in over 44 countries internationally.