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Go Green: "The Commons"

A new building is opening up at the Harley School in Brighton and it is taking a different twist on learning.
A new building is opening up at the Harley School in Brighton and it is taking a different twist on learning. 

It is a lesson in sustainability that you will not find in any textbook. The Commons Building at the Harley School is going to put students to work.

"Literally the students have real and meaningful roles running this building through this net zero challenge," faculty member Chris Hartman said.

Students will be in charge of the $3 million addition and they have the hefty goal of making it net zero, meaning it produces all of its own energy. 

"They'll be collecting data from knowing how much electricity is used in every single outlet to the temperature and the heating systems to knowing what energy is being used and produced," Hartman said.

"How can the students then talk among themselves and figure out how [they] can make this more efficient? Is this a decision; do we want to turn heat to down to 60 and wear sweaters and save energy that way," project co-chair Terry Smith said.

The building was constructed with the environment in mind. It is very well insulated and has an efficient heating system. Much of the wood used inside the building is actually quite old.

"A lot of the barn wood in the building is recycled and refurnished wood from a barn that was just going to be thrown out," Seth O'Bryan said.

Solar panels also help capture energy from the sun and there is a greenhouse that will soon house a living wall.

"The environment is an important piece of the school so there is a lot of green technology in the building to kind of work towards being more sustainable," O'Bryan said.

The school hopes that by bringing this lesson to life, it will stick with students for the rest of their lives. 

"Here is very much a way for it to be like a conduit for those conversations and important learning opportunities to happen," Smith said.

Right now the work is continuing on The Commons Building. Some classes have already come in, but the rest are scheduled to start in the new building in January. 
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