George School in Bucks County, Pa., hadn’t constructed a new freestanding academic facility in 33 years. So when the time came to construct a new facility, the goal was to do it right for the students, faculty, community and environment.



George School in Bucks County, Pa., hadn’t constructed a new freestanding academic facility in 33 years. So when the time came to construct a new facility, the goal was to do it right for the students, faculty, community and environment.

To that end, the 26,400-square-foot, $12.5-million Learning Commons and Mollie Dodd Anderson Library at the private Quaker boarding and day high school incorporates many sustainable building elements into its design and construction, starting at the very top with vegetative and metal roofing systems.

The library, designed to meet LEED Gold requirements, is comprised of a glass box-like formation connected to two brick structures that match the nearby historic George School Meetinghouse, which was built in 1812. More than 60 percent of the new materials were obtained from regional resources and more than 50 percent of the materials utilized for the new library contained recycled content, including the Follansbee TCS II metal roof. Furthermore, the TCS II is 100 percent recyclable.

Approximately 12,000 square feet of terne-coated stainless steel was installed as a double-lock standing-seam roof, and an additional 1,500 square feet was used for the fascia and soffits of the roof. The material has reduced life-cycle costs and environmental impact, and it is virtually maintenance free. It resists corrosion and endures harsh weather and was selected for building longevity while illustrating George School’s commitment to sustainability.

A vegetative roof from American Hydrotech was installed in conjunction with the metal roof to provide stormwater management and building insulation. The roof absorbs rain and melted snow, and releases it slowly back into the stormwater drainage system at a slower rate than a traditional roof. The vegetative roof is made of a several-inch thick layer of fine material similar to lava rock and is planted with 10 different varieties of grass-like vegetation called sedum.

The vegetative roof’s design allows it to insulate the building, reducing the workload on the library’s geothermal heating and cooling system in a way that a normal roof could not. The school maintains the vegetative roof; other than watering, the roof’s maintenance consists of quarterly weeding and biannual light fertilization.

Both roofing systems provide long life expectancies, energy savings and visual appeal. A metal roof can deliver useful service for 50 years or more, while the vegetative roof is expected to last 40 years. The metal roof features an attractive, soft-looking, protective patina finish. Unaffected by heat or UV light, the metal will never need to be painted, according to the manufacturer.

In addition to the library, the George School building includes five classrooms, a learning center, offices, a conference room and an art gallery. Additional green building features include native plant rain gardens, FSC-certified wood, low-VOC paints, carpets and glues, waterless urinals and low-flush toilets.

Construction began in fall 2008 and the library was completed in September 2009. LEED Gold certification was awarded in March 2010.

Learning Commons and Mollie Dodd Anderson Library

Location: George School in Bucks County, Pa.

Roofing: Vegetative and metal roofing systems

Size: 26,400 square feet

Completed: September 2009

Architect: Bowie Gridley Architects, Washington, D.C.

General Contractor: W.S. Cumby, Springfield, Pa.

Distributor: North Coast, York, Pa.

Roofing Installer: Kraus Commercial Roofing Inc., Ottsville, Pa.

A slideshow of the green roof installation is available at www.georgeschool.org. Photos courtesy of George School.