Chinquapin builds ‘Green’ facility on campus

Tricia Ratliff and Betsy Phillips pose for a picture outside The Chinquapin School’s latest project

HIGHLANDS — A Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony will be held on April 8, marking the opening of a newly-built LEED-certified faculty duplex at The Chinquapin School, a college-preparatory school for underserved boys and girls from the Greater Houston area.

Community members are invited to attend the event that begins at 1 p.m. The new building was designed by the well-respected firm of Glassman Shoemake Maldonado Architects. The residence will house two faculty families, while serving as a model of sustainable design.

Features of this intelligent duplex include:

• Monitoring of resource consumption around the clock, providing a data collection store for science and math education at Chinquapin and local universities

• Procurement of largely local building materials, resulting in a low carbon footprint

• Utilization of low- or no-VOC-emitting building materials, producing a healthier working environment for construction workers and a healthier living environment for residents

• Transparently-built mechanical systems, so that students can see building systems in action

• Collection and reuse of rainwater

This project spurred the attainment of a grant from Green Mountain Energy for a 3.2 kilowatt solar panel array valued at $30,000.

In the spring of 2007, Chinquapin’s students started the design for this “green” building as a class assignment focused on sustainable design concepts. The students submitted designs that served as a springboard toward the final architectural plans of the much-needed faculty housing.

Faculty housing is an essential part of Chinquapin’s boarding school offering. Most of Chinquapin’s faculty members live on the school premises, along with the 7th-12th grade boys who live on campus during the school week. The boarding component sets Chinquapin apart from most other educational institutions that focus on a low-income population.

“A large part of ensuring the success of the students who board here depends on providing a community of teachers and advisors who are available around the clock, in person, to help guide and encourage students… More teachers living on campus equates to more student interaction with positive role models,” said Williams W. Heinzerling, Director of Chinquapin.

The new duplex is a welcome addition for the faculty, since the building replaces an existing substandard 1970 mobile home and an original dwelling that has been demolished. It is anticipated that the new facility will help maintain the sense of community among faculty and students at Chinquapin. Also, it is hoped that the new faculty duplex will contribute to teacher retention and help attract new teachers in the future.