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Cate School’s New Admission Building Receives LEED Platinum Designation

Cate School’s new admission building, the Class of 1985 House, was constructed on an east-west axis to maximize natural light, and outdoor lighting was reduced.
Cate School’s new admission building, the Class of 1985 House, was constructed on an east-west axis to maximize natural light, and outdoor lighting was reduced. (Ian Vorster photo / Cate School)

Cate School's new admission building, the Class of 1985 House, has received LEED Platinum certification — the highest possible rating — by the U.S. Green Building Council.

It joins seven other LEED-certified buildings on campus and is one of only 157 Platinum-certified commercial buildings in California.

To receive the designation, the building had to meet rigorous standards across six categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and the design process. In order to obtain credits in each category, the school worked with local contractors Hartigan/Foley to carefully plan the function, design and construction of the building.

"LEED measures everything from power and water usage to indoor air quality to recycled waste in the construction process," says Kevin Hartigan, who oversaw the project. "To get Platinum designation, you have to hit a homerun in each section."

Cate's admission building was constructed on an east-west axis to maximize natural light, and outdoor lighting was reduced. Ventilation and filtration systems keep indoor air clean, and recycled materials, nontoxic materials and sustainably-harvested wood products were used. Wastewater is reclaimed and treated on-site, and xeriscaping reduces landscape water use. An electric vehicle charging station sits outside, and solar photovoltaic cells supply 100 percent of the building's energy needs and more.

"We are excited to be completely off-the-grid," says director of admission Charlotte Brownlee, class of 1985. "Working in a LEED-certified building has actually heightened my awareness of my own energy consumption in daily life."

In order to earn LEED certification, Cate and Hartigan/Foley submitted a detailed application and documentation of compliance with the rating system; the number of points the project earned determined the level of certification.

Cate's administrators are gratified that the designation will serve as tangible recognition of the deeply rooted ethos of sustainability at Cate.

"It's a representation of the school's continued commitment to green building," Headmaster Ben Williams said. "From individual structures on campus to a school-wide recycling program and local, organic food in the dining hall, our community works every day to lower its impact — always mindful of the connection to the land we call home."

— Sarah Kidwell represents Cate School.

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