Banneker High School, John Lewis Elementary Featured in Book About World’s Highest Performing Schools

Two Perkins Eastman-designed schools in Washington, DC, have been included in a new book surveying 41 case studies of the world’s top “regenerative schools,” meaning they holistically benefit both the environment and the well-being of their occupants.

Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, A LEED for Schools Platinum-certified school with more than 10 design awards, joins John Lewis Elementary, the world’s first school to achieve a Platinum rating for both WELL and LEED for Schools and has earned more than a dozen awards, in the book’s review.

Banneker High School, John Lewis Elementary Featured in Book About World's Highest Performing Schools 1

Photographs © Joseph Romeo

“These excellent buildings can teach us so many things. They teach us how to use less energy to heat and cool our buildings, how to use non-toxic materials to build, and how to landscape without potable water. But they can also teach us how to live in balance with the world around us, about native plants and animals, and about ecosystems,” writes Lindsay Baker, CEO of the International Living Future Institute, in the book’s forward.

The authors are Alan Ford and Betsy Del Monte, both Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, and Kate Mraw, an expert in sustainable educational design. “By sharing our collective experiences, we hope to accelerate the transition towards a world where every child has the opportunity to learn in a healthy, safe, connected environment—one that not only enriches minds but also regenerates our planet,” they write in their introduction.

Here are some of the book’s highlights on each school:

Banneker High School

Banneker, a magnet school for the city’s top academic performers, was singled out for its sustainability across four metrics, which are illustrated in a large graphic the design team produced that hangs inside the school:

Benjamin Banneker Academic High School 15

Community – it’s adjacent to a community center, and its gym and auditorium entrances face in this direction, creating a new community benefit.

Water – The landscaping includes bioretention basins that reduce stormwater runoff, in addition to native trees, grasses and shrubs.

Energy – it’s targeted for net zero energy through strategies such as a geothermal well system, optimized window-to-wall ratios, and photovoltaic panel placements that also serve as shading devices.

Indoor Environmental Quality – The east-west orientation provides ample daylight to the north-south oriented classroom, along with reduced glare and mitigated solar heat gain. Other key elements include thermal comfort, good acoustics, and air quality.

John Lewis Elementary School

The difference between the previous building the school occupied and this new one is stark, the book’s authors write.

Daylight – Whereas there was very little light anywhere in the old building, the spaces inside the new John Lewis Elementary are 77-percent daylight autonomous.

Layout – While the prior building was fully open-plan, which was “an acoustical disaster,” K-12 Education practice leader Sean O’Donnell told the authors, this one features a hybrid plan, where classrooms are organized in clusters around their own commons area, but each class can be closed with a large garage door.

Garage Doors open from a central hallway into classrooms at John Lewis Elementary School in Washington, DC

Copyright Joseph Romeo/Courtesy Perkins Eastman

Indoor Air Quality – The school was designed to beat the city’s ventilation-rate requirements by 30 percent to meet WELL standards, and also employ demand-control ventilation with top-rated MERV 13 filtering.

Equity – The school’s investment in a geothermal system will save more than $250,000 in annual operating expenses–money that can be redirected to student education.