Penn Charter’s performing arts center wins accolades

William Penn Charter School’s new David L. Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts has won Gold certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program.

“What a tremendous achievement,” Penn Charter board member Jeff Reinhold wrote in a note of congratulations to the architects, contractors and PC administrators engaged in the design and construction of the “green” building.

Reinhold, a PC parent and real estate developer, was a key player in the project, raising funds for the new building and working closely with Voith & Mactavish Architects and E. Allen Reeves, Inc., the construction firm.

The Philadelphia Business Journal also awarded the $16 million project second place in the category of educational/institutional project; first place in that category of real estate projects went to CHOP’s $260 million Colket biomedical research building.

The Kurtz Center opened last year with a 650-seat theater, a sprung floor for dance and an orchestra pit with hydraulic lift. The facility includes choral and instrumental rooms, recording studio and a scenery shop. 

LEED certification is coveted by environmentally conscious individuals and organizations undertaking new construction projects.

Certification is awarded on a system of points related to site development, water savings and energy efficiency, materials and indoor environmental quality.

A performing arts center is a particularly energy-intensive structure, but the Kurtz Center incorporated many “green” features, including this partial list:

Green Roof

A 10,000 sq. ft. green roof growing a variety of sedum plants covers the theater roof to capture storm water, reduce the “heat island” effect, and provide a natural habitat for birds and pollinating insects. The green roof also provides additional thermal and sound insulation for the building.

Storm Water

The storm water that is not held by the green roof goes through a vortex-type water quality unit under the parking lot to reduce particulates in the water. The water then flows to a 9,500 sq. ft. filtration bed beneath the synthetic turf field, where it is released back into the earth.

Local Materials

Schist, the stone used on existing Penn Charter buildings, and slate are local materials. Using them rather than materials transported longer distances saves fossil fuel and earns LEED points. There are many recycled products in the building; the bathroom tiles of crushed glass bottles are an obvious example, but the following were also made of recycled material: steel structure, stairs, toilet partitions, theater railings, porch railings, catwalks, carpet, bulletin boards, acoustical ceiling tiles, window frames and doors.

Wind Power

An energy source for the Kurtz Center is among the most sustainable on the planet – wind.

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