The Harley School To Break Ground on Chesonis Commons November 26
New facility will house educational programs on sustainability and challenge students to manage a net-zero operation in energy, water, and carbon dioxide
Brighton, N.Y., November 19, 2012—The Harley School will break ground on Chesonis Commons—a “living building” that will be dedicated to environmental education and sustainability at 1981 Clover Street—on November 26, 2012. The groundbreaking ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a performance by Harley’s a cappella group, Vocal Chords. The program will include remarks from lead donor and former PAETEC CEO Arunas Chesonis, The Harley School Board of Trustees President Peter Willsea, Harley Interim Head of School Valerie Myntti, and Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle.
Chesonis Commons will be the first K-12 education space in the country to offer students multiple dimensions of education around creating a sustainable future. The 14,000-square-foot structure earns its status as a “living building” because it will generate its own energy, heat and cool with renewable nontoxic resources, capture and utilize water and carbon in its greenhouse, and operate efficiently using students as the “brains” or controls for managing its operations. The $3 million project was funded by a $1 million lead gift from the Chesonis Family Foundation, as well as fundraising and donations to The Harley School. Chesonis Commons is expected to be complete by September 2013.
“When complete, Chesonis Commons will support a rich social curriculum that puts our students in charge of resource use and waste production. Students in the building will work toward a net-zero operation in energy, water, and carbon dioxide,” said Myntti. “We’ll be able to offer our students a unique and creative educational experience that challenges them to think differently about science and our environment as a whole. This is an experience they won’t get anywhere else in our region.”
Chesonis Commons will be constructed in the barn located near the athletic fields on The Harley School Campus. It will be home to three new educational resources at the school, including the Briggs Center for Civic Engagement, Center for Mindfulness and Empathy Education (CMEE), and a state-of-the-art Science Center.
The Briggs Center will focus on programs that put students, faculty, and the institution in positions of civic leadership—expanding Harley’s leadership in public-private programs. The CMEE will support emotional literacy among students, and build upon The Harley School’s Hospice Outreach Program, an elective course where senior students volunteer to provide end-of-life care as full-fledged caregivers at nine Comfort Care Homes in the Rochester area. The Science Center will focus on student-led programs that welcome broad participation and collaboration in tackling authentic science projects, which will join science and civic responsibility to tackle current science problems. In addition, Projects Space—a creative problem solving and design program—will be housed in the bottom floor of Chesonis Commons. This hands-on area will provide students in grades K-12 with the space and support necessary for design thinking and student exploration focused on bringing ideas into reality.
Plans include a greenhouse and systems for carbon sequestering, a green wall, and solar chimney to naturally regulate the temperature in the building. Solar panels will be installed as well as a geothermal system and variable refrigerant flow air source HVAC system, rainwater collection, and solar hot water heating system. Systems will be controlled and monitored from a central control room operated by students.
The Harley School selected Rochester-based organizations to design and build Chesonis Commons. Tom Johnson was chosen as the designer for the project, while Nichols Construction and architecture firm 9×30 will build Chesonis Commons using sustainable practices and material.