Bertschi Center

The Bertschi School is a private primary school with an environmental, community and civic ethic that they strive to exemplify when constructing and operating their buildings. Bertschi enrolls more than 220 students in grades pre-kindergarten through five, on a campus of six buildings spanning an entire city block of Seattle’s Capitol Hill. O’Brien & Company is privileged to have worked on a series of sustainability projects at the school since 2007.

In 2005, the school undertook building a new gymnasium and community building, the Bertschi Center, with a broad commitment to sustainability. O’Brien & Company worked for both the school and the contractor, GLY, during construction to ensure materials and other construction related tasks were tracked and documented. We also assessed and recommend changes to strategies that were not meeting LEED requirements. Our services help provide the Board of Director’s with a measure of assurance that the Bertschi Center would received the LEED Gold Certification promised during fundraising for the building. The building earned LEED Gold under LEED for New Construction v2.1 in 2008.

The 12,290 SF building, designed by Miller Hull Partnership, features large roll up glass doors that open the gym to native habitat around the building, a green roof, and a solar array which supplies 6.6% of the buildings energy requirements. A rain water harvesting system stores roof runoff in large cisterns in the play area. Level indicators measure the amount of rainwater stored and flow meters record the amount of rain water used for toilet flushing and irrigation. A weather station on the roof correlates daily conditions with energy use and production.

A conscious effort was made to choose building and site materials that are sustainable and have the lowest long term impact on the environment. Recycled and locally available materials were used and the life cycle of materials was also considered.

There is a high degree of environmental consciousness among the children at Bertschi, which has been fostered by the teachers. All of the sustainable features of the building and its systems are recorded and made available to the children as part of the curriculum through a touch screen monitor located in the art gallery.

The Bertschi Center was awarded one of ten 2008 “What Makes It Green?” awards, which recognizes the best green designs in the Northwest and Pacific regions.

Learn more about the Bertschi Living Science Classroom project.