Green Building Design: James S. Wilson Middle School

By Craig Schill

GreenEriePA Writer 

James S. Wilson Middle School is much greener than most buildings in the area, according to Christopher Coughlin, an architect with Hallgren, Restifo, Loop & Coughlin. The school is greener because it incorporates: 

Daylighting, a window design allowing more light into classrooms and lowering the energy costs of lighting the rooms.

Bio-infiltration areas that manage storm water runoff.

A rainwater collection system that brings water back into the building to flush toilets and urinals.

A parking lot built with porous asphalt, limiting disruption and pollution of local streams by managing storm water runoff.

Photovoltaic panels (PV panels), converting sunlight into usable energy powering classroom outlets.

Lower wattage lights in the parking lot.

A white roof that lowers the amount of heat absorbed in the warmer months.

A geothermal system that reduces the use of fossil fuels.

Insulated concrete forms and translucent fiberglass panels that optimize energy performance.

Kitchen waste collected, placed into a pulper, crushed and then used in gardens located outside the school.

Waste heat from a piping system located on the roof heating water for the kitchen and bathrooms.

Efficient lights with programmable lighting controls conserving energy.

Recycled materials were utilized in the construction process.

The new construction was performed to reduce energy use and emissions and serve as an educational tool for students, parents, and teachers. Portions of the new construction remain exposed to allow everyone to see "green" happening. The architects visited many other "green" schools, incorporating some of the ideas they found into the design. Funding for this project was provided by Millcreek Township taxpayers. Grant funding came from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) along with Millcreek Township. Coughlin hopes that in addition to learning about being "greener" students and parents who move away from the area spread the principles they have learned. 


Cristopher D. Coughlin 
Hallgren, Restifo, Loop, & Coughlin Architects (HRLC) 
4380 West 12th Street 
Erie, PA 16505 
Phone: (814) 838-6586 
Fax: (814) 838-6588